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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Run for Home

I’ll be ditching my Fitbit over Christmas, because no Google, not happening. Instead, I’ll be picking up a Garmin watch. I’ve been doing some research on what the new system brings me, and it’s already getting me quite excited.

Last night’s Blaze was also a triumph, despite the fact my mouth’s still fucking painful. When I’m told to run at 8/10 for three minutes and not go balls out, a part of my brain quietly celebrates. The irony of course was that I was the only person doing what was asked of them last night. Everybody else struggled. Regulation has become my real, abiding strength.

Yesterday’s workout was also notable for another reason.

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Yes, I ceased to exist at 8.05 :D That drop out is why I’m in blue at 7.44 too: my belt is not happy holding charge right now. It could also be the belt, after a year of use, that’s not optimal, it may be time to investigate that as a possible reason. Despite this, that’s a 77% effort score, closer to 8/10 than seven. Nine minutes of aerobic threshold run was, it must be said, the most satisfying part of all.

It makes me want to now run in three minute bursts, with active recovery in between, to see how long I can go. That’s certainly a game plan going forward. It’s not running at particularly high speed either, just 7 kph. It is why cycling has such massive potential for stamina training too: being able to keep going, for long periods at a time, is massively helpful. Except always, ultimately, I am at a disadvantage.

Lung capacity is the intractable that must be managed.

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There is nothing that can be done about the shortcomings of my body. There’s no way to undo the damage of pneumonia and poor lung function. All I can hope is to maintain a certain level of fitness, and hope that is enough to allow an increase in both strength and capacity. It would help if I could find a peak flow meter to check whether anything has improved on that front since September.

Never tidy anything up, kids.

50 Words for Snow

This weekend was always planned to be off the exercise grid. I’ve worked stupidly hard across the last couple of months, and really need to reorganise my exercise plans. Therefore, this afternoon, there’s a calendar that’s been completed.

Rest is becoming the most important part of my planning. Having put that into my calendar first, twice a week, makes fitting the rest of my work around it easy. I also want to add more bike into the schedule, to start training with my husband who’s now back to full fitness after his operation. Eleven days in December’s a decent figure to aim for in terms of attainment, and makes for a solid foundation to build on in January.

After that, there’s a lot of psychology at play which needs to be addressed.

This article is an absolute corker: so much so I’ve copied the thirteen headers into a list and stuck them on the wall as reminders. Number 6 might be the most important one of all: avoid making judgements about your day first thing in the morning. This is so utterly true for so many things, not just exercise. I can remember a lot of days that went south because of me making a dumb decision before the first caffeine had kicked in.

Using this as a basis, I can make a strong effort to beat my monthly exercise total for October. There’s also the matter of becoming Gold status on the MyZone belt once the minimum number of MEPs is reached, which should be some time in the first ten days of next month. It doesn’t matter how they happen, just as long as they do, and that’s really not ever going to be a problem.

I’ll see you next week for an update.

Sing it Back

…ooh look, it’s two days into a new month and I’ve not put my belt on yet. Dun worry, that’ll all change tomorrow. For now, it’s probably time to celebrate last month’s achievement.

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4611 MEP’s to beat… that’s gonna take some work. I could strap on the belt 24/7, I suppose, but that rather defeats the object of the exercise. What’s needed here is CONSISTENCY, which is really quite easy to work on. Keep the rest days, know when it’s appropriate not to push, and ensure that there’s a proper balance between cardio and strength training.

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I always knew today would need to be an enforced rest day, and undoubtedly as we get closer to Christmas there will be other days where it is impossible to fit in the exercise required. If there’s a feeling on Tuesday morning there’s enough energy to catch up on today’s missed work I will, but it’s more likely to be a gimme. 22 days out of 31 with summat is brilliant. 

The aim is 20 days minimum on the calendar for November.

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With the news breaking yesterday that Google’s bought Fitbit, you’ll all soon be able to see my data, all over the interwebs without me needing to do screencaps… ^^ Until the changeover happens, I have plenty of opportunities to work on that 12k a day step total. If I wondered why I was so wiped after Wednesday night this week, I reckon almost 20k including a Blaze with hill incline runs probably had summat to do with it…

That’s tomorrow’s task too, with some heavy lifting thrown in for good measure. Why am I doing all this again…?

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However, I will be very much enjoying not having exercised today, oh yes…

One Week

I should be finishing work posts but hey, it’s Friday night and maybe it is high time I cut myself a break. Relaxing is never something that’s been easy or simple: increasingly, that will involve a treadmill and headphones. That’s how my fitness journey began, years ago… walking around the local streets, listening to music that helped me escape the issues that often threatened to overwhelm completely.

Now, everything is easier. Tonight’s Treat Night would normally have been Chinese, but the local’s just too much sugar and too much fat on everything. Instead, plans were changed, and the Chicken Pad Thai that’s just been consumed was one of the most enjoyable things eaten for quite some time. I suspect, in it’s own way, it will have been just as bad as the old stuff, but there are crucial differences.

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White rice is now off the menu for good, as is most forms of white bread. The bloating that accompanies is not simply an inconvenience but increasingly uncomfortable: that makes sushi choices a bit more limited, but having proved to myself in the week that Japanese food is still a good call, especially with oily fish a must-eat food… it is all part of my adaptive process.

I will do the exercise write up tomorrow after my Mental Health Champion stuff: needless to say, right now, this is the strongest I’ve felt for quite some time. How that now translates into exercise going forward will largely depend on the refuelling, realising that traditional means of a quick energy fix can no longer be used or indeed relied on. It’ll all work itself out in the end.

There’s confidence in myself to make these changes stick.

Believe

There was a point, in last night’s Blaze class, when I lost confidence in myself. If you’ve been following this fitness journey, you’ll know that particular class uses heart rate to encourage greater effort, via a special wearable piece of tech. It then broadcasts said effort onto a screen where you’re placed beside everybody else in the class. All the instructors will also tell you it’s not a competition with anybody else except yourself.

The truth however is anything but.

Last night, at a crucial moment when I was flat out on a treadmill, looking up to the screen above showed everybody else in the max (red) heart-rate zone, with me in green. The mental v physical disconnect hit like a punch. By the end of the class, I was in floods of tears: fortunately for me, there were people there who not only helped me, but reminded that everything is relative, including the level of effort.

I underestimated the amount of work I’ve done this week. If I add up all the active minutes in the last four days (using Fitbit as my guide) it isn’t 225 minutes, but 353, and this does not include Tuesday where the watch was very intentionally not recording. So yeah, maybe I should factor that in when it gets to Thursday. Also, I did a Synergy Gym class before the Blaze one, and probably didn’t manage my energy output that well whilst doing so.

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Most sessions, my brain’s awake enough to see past the lie of ‘if you’re not in the red zone you can be working harder’ but a month’s worth of mental stress could not be dodged last night. The visual was, quite frankly, just too powerful to ignore. It’s the underlying problem with these classes that’s always existed, but nobody ever talks about. If you allow the red to fool you, everything can and does fall apart.

This morning, truth is far easier to rationalise.

There is nothing wrong with competition: it’s a healthy, normal part of sport. The concept’s there to give you an idea of how other people’s fitness compares with yours, but it is up to you to factor in the variables: weight, age, ability can’t be quantified as colour on a screen. Except I’ve seen what people do when they get tired in this class: they forget which lane they’re in. They forget what exercise they’re doing and just run on autopilot.

The numbers and colours affect mental ability in many different ways. Today, I used that as a basis for a poem. Stepping back, looking objectively at what happened, it is clear that my brain fell for the lie: this isn’t about effort expended, but a longer term view of the journey this is a step within. I wish my club did more work on mental health within it’s auspice and didn’t just assume members have that covered.

I suspect they’d not consider it important because it won’t turn a profit.

P.S.: This is also the problem.

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.