New Life

There’s been an standing joke running between myself and Mr Alt since I started using Zwift for exercise: I don’t do more than an hour at a time. As soon as the clock ticks over to 01:00:00 I stop and that’s me done. I knew the reasons behind this were sound, and last night science decided to show him with FACTS. My body is nowhere near as strong or capable as his is, and I genuinely struggle with endurance. On what I know about myself I’d expected to last about ninety minutes before legs stopped working. In the end, I made it to one hour and forty minutes before the bottom half of my body gave the finger and simply ceased to function.

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The first hour included pacing, not pushing 100% (as I normally do.) It did not matter one iota that I went up hills, because I’ve been training in fixed gear pretty much 90% of the time and the trainer I used down not automatically adjust when there’s a gradient. Resistance is my concern as a result and was only really used as way to give arse a rest from over an hour sitting down. The problem, on reflection, was that I never had anywhere to recover. Active recovery is a concept my trainer has taught me, the means by which you don’t stop after a burst of intense exercise. Having Mr Alt next to me who just pedalled through everything made me push, far more than was normally the case.

It is probably time I stopped training alone, and (more importantly) I don’t automatically assume that because I had to stop it was a failure.

These stats were a revelation, especially when Mr Alt showed me his for the same ride. He spent the entire ride in Zone 1 and 2, not really breaking a sweat, based on his own FTP (which is clearly considerably higher than mine due to his time cycling.) For me, there was no recovery time at all, hence why I finally had to stop dead. The next step in my journey is to work out how I can take the pain out of longer rides, and increase endurance/stamina. My goal of 110 miles a week is now complete: I’ll consider whether today is a rest day or not a bit later on, once I’ve got my prep work for the next seven days organised.

Once upon a time I would have gotten very nervous about using stats like this to rate my performance. Now I realise that there’s a mental disparity between ability and performance that needs to be both considered and addressed.

Wake Up

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Once my Fitbit is charged (probably another 30 minutes) I’ll be walking to the Gym for the first time since the 23rd. It’s not like I’ve not exercised between then and now either: I’m on Day Five of what (I hope) will be a long, interrupted run of indoor hourly bike rides.

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Husband last night was kind enough to gift me Strava Premium, which is where all my stats go from Zwift, giving an extremely accurate idea of how much work is going on. I also have the Watt Bike at the Gym reporting to the same device, but it is going to be quite hard to register an hourly session because there’s only three of them available to record data, with January set to be a busy month. Therefore I may yet pick a time of day to do an hour out of my normal routine (say after 8pm) in order to start getting body ready for doing 50 miles in a day.

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I’m on familiar territory for the next few days: Zwift has parts of the Ride London circuit digitised and yesterday evening I did the ‘London Flat’: the run up to this loop, and then three circuits worth of sprints. In Encouraging News I was able to beat the sprint time on each loop, which means that there is energy still left after 60 minutes of my legs going OW (quite a lot.) Once I hit the Gym and do weights (plus I think some running today) there will be a better picture of how I’m faring. I’ve put on two pounds since Christmas but that will soon vanish once I get back into good habits and nobody is shoving fresh sausage rolls in my face.

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I’m going to post this here, and assuming Humanity make it to the end of 2018 unscathed? We’ll do a compare and contrast to see how I’m doing then. For now, I need to be burning off more calories, getting physically stronger, and not letting fear and anxiety get the better of me. The last one will be the hardest, on the results of the last week.

Exercise is no longer frightening or intimidating.

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Number of Days of Continuous Exercise = EIGHT

That was Christmas, then, when I ate what I was given, didn’t log any calories and had a sandwich for Festive lunch. Honestly, this ought to be the norm going forward: very little food was wasted yesterday, everybody was hugely happy and Doctor Who is now female. I’ll watch the Xmas episode again at some point via the iPlayer, but I honestly don’t think there’s been a better seasonal episode/Regeneration handover since Mr Tennant entered the TARDIS.

Last night’s board gaming was definite sea change from previous years too, resulting in a pleasant hangover. It is Boxing Day lunchtime and both kids are still in bed, for instance, and we were the ones getting them up yesterday. However, in what was undoubtedly the best change of all, I did an hour on the bike yesterday afternoon.

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The fact you can cheat, if you desire, by spoofing your bike’s power output is a real source of amusement to me: this isn’t like making a Facebook post where you pretend to go on a run and then don’t. The numbers, in this case, are inescapable proof. I also did more yesterday than I did on Sunday, and what this means is that today’s ride has the potential to feature three sprint sections and not two. If that is the case, the plan will become in the next few weeks to ride it harder and better, with the sprint times being worked on and reduced. I also think I could do this on top of what I have planned for scheduled exercise: it will all depend on how organised I can get myself in the meantime.

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I just ate the last mince pie in the house, and after dinner with my parents tonight I’ll be back on the healthy wagon. Having turned my 6.58 alarm off my Fitbit a couple of minutes ago, there will still be early Gym tomorrow morning.

I think maybe it is time to keep this line drawn in the sand.

Work It :: Week One COMPLETE

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I’ve never lost this amount of weight in one hit before. It was a shock to watch too, that even with the occasional chocolate bar in the mix, this was what my body needed. Six days of consistent, focussed effort has meant that the weight has vanished. I’ve done work on a Watt Bike for the first time, gone back to the Rowing machine (and not performed that badly) and run. Yes, there has been lots of running. I’m going to have to retire my knackered shoes this week, the tread has worn to nothing on both heels.

The key, of course, has been adhering to the calorie goal. It means on certain days I’ve just skipped lunch to be able to have a substantive evening meal. A lot of protein has been consumed, yet the sugar will return today, as I have my husband’s Christmas meal this evening (who eats their festive dinner on a Monday?) but after that I intend to keep up the good fight right up until Christmas Eve. Then, I suspect, there may be a slice of Christmas Cake with my cuppa.

Week One DUNSKI

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I’m not going to weigh myself until Wednesday, so I can get the excess of food today out of my system. The kids finish school on Wednesday, and after that I intend to exercise early, and often. That means I paid my Zwift sub this week and I’ll be back on the bike before I’m scheduled to ride on Christmas Day. There’ll be updates as we go, of course… because I firmly believe there is even more weight to lose…

New Life

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I’m taking a day off making headers. In fact, with the exception of the extended Gym session I’ll be involved in as you read this, the whole of today is being remade to fit a particular plan. Last night I looked down at my stomach and realised that the change is now inescapable. It may have taken months to get to the point where I can see this part of my body shrinking, but there is now no doubt. If I continue the pace of exercise started this week? My goal is close.

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I took yesterday off because after 4 days at 12k, I was fucked. Once upon a time all that number would have symbolised was 12,000 leisurely, non effort-filled steps. Not any more. I pushed myself REALLY hard this week, and every step in those totals is either sweat filled or includes lifting weights. Today I want that 12k to become 14k, despite the rain, but the reality is that I’ll make to and from the Gym count as my total and then do extra steps on top. I’ll also do a morning session tomorrow to try and incentivise my husband to do the same, as Christmas is coming.

The desire to push is coming not from the need to feel that there’s effort being made, but to help build on the strength I now exist within. It also has been reflected in the amount of work I’ve managed to achieve in the week, and the progress in other things that would not have happened without the physical toughness. This is the evolution of strength that is extending not simply into the stuff I lift, but the things I write. Last week’s output is some of the best I feel that has been written for a long time. The connection I felt was significant between mind and body is finally beginning to bear fruit.

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This week, I’m adding increasing amounts of running to my workout. Weights are increasing again and I have the beginnings of a second pull up hidden within me, just waiting to break out. Once I can do a number in sequence I’ll ask my PT to film it so it can be enshrined as proof, once and for all, that progress at this age isn’t just possible, it is viable. Next year is already being planned. There will be many new things to do.

I really hope that everything I want to do might now become a reality.

Look Away

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Looks are fleeting, yet for so many of us, they form the entire reason for our existence. That doesn’t just mean physically, either: everything we consume has to look as good as possible. Take my Gym, for example: they rebranded their food concession earlier in the year, and an awful lot of time and effort has gone into the ‘healthy’ aspect of their produce. We use this food and that one and everything is fresh is the mantra, time and again. Except, they’ve now rebranded the menu again and I can’t help but think that this time I’m being spoofed, because the thing with the least number of calories on the menu, apart from a fruit salad for breakfast, is pancakes and maple syrup.

They’re supposed to be ‘protein’ pancakes but nowhere on the menu is there an explanation of what that means, what’s in them or indeed how the calorie content of this breaks down. Sure, there’s a calorific value listed on the menu but nowhere on the website can I find an actual breakdown of what exactly is in this dish. Now, because I’m not the person who just complains about this anymore, I went to a member of staff and suggested to them that if the menu had a barcode on that I could scan (or even a QR code) that showed me exactly what this meal broke down into, life would be a lot easier, and I’d be more willing to eat there going forward.

Ironically, I have a better idea what was in my hugely unhealthy takeaway pizza last night than I do what was in my supposedly ‘healthy’ breakfast this morning. Summat ain’t right here, folks.

Today’s other massive revelation is how my push-ups have evolved since I first began doing them. Before I will be honest, there was no core body strength in me at all. Thanks to my surgery, which fixed a belly button hernia back in May, I now have the ability (and muscles) in these areas which simply did not exist before, and this has meant that the form I used to compensate for that lack of strength, is now hindering proper posture. Just as I had to relearn how to run, I’m now tasked with the ability to relearn how to push myself up and down without losing the ‘plank’ posture that matters so much and bloody hell do my arms hurt now.

The great thing about this is, as was the case with running, that I need no equipment to make a change. There’s no fancy workout or video to follow. I simply have to learn to lift myself, and once that takes place without effort or pain, a lot of other stuff falls into place. Plus it is an exercise that can take place every day without the need for a rest. Tomorrow’s 36 will be tough, I suspect, but after that, it will be downhill all the way. I am looking forward to what I know now is the next step forward in my physical transformation. Even with a head full of cold, that’s the most satisfying session of PT I’ve undertaken for quite some time.

It’s all up to me now, and long may that be the case.

A New Day

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I’m using the same blog title in two places today, because last night I finally reconciled how the relaxation portion of my life is going to play out going forward. For about two years I was tied to a responsibility that, having now been released, I understand was effectively strangling my love of gaming. Now that is no longer a consideration going forward? It is high time to reorganise that side of my existence, in the same way I have with everything else. It has helped greatly that I’ve had people to talk to who understand my peculiar situation. It is also really helpful that relaxation is not simply via one means any more. Previously, escaping to gaming was all there was… now, that’s not the case.

I have a new hobby 👍🚴‍♀️💪

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I’ve wanted a mountain bike for some time now, because they’re simply more robust than the road bikes my husband seems to love. Having ridden this yesterday I am already happier than I have been for many, many months: it is not only built for a female body, it is incredibly easy to manoeuvrer and direct. What this gives me is a bike I feel comfortable riding to and from the shops, that I can do some road work without panicking, and that is 100% mine. We’d considered an old style upright, but honestly I’d rather have a backpack on than a basket… unless I get to the stage where a three wheeled bike with a massive front container is available. That’s a long way off, and I’ll need an awful lot more strength and stamina if I’m going to pull that off.

If you’d have told me a decade ago I’d have said I enjoy cycling, I’d have laughed at you.

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There is an awful lot of shit going on in the world I have absolutely no influence in changing, so it is high time I focused on what can be done, and do a fucking good job of it. That means getting strong, mobile and finding a voice.

This seems like a good place to start.