I’m Only Sleeping

Day 2: Welcome to the Age of Saying What I Really Wanted to Say. Today’s nugget of interest? I don’t like having my midriff uncovered. It makes me feel physically uncomfortable at present: is this a deep-seated issue or is it just too fucking cold to be wearing anything than about 35 layers? Leave that one with me.

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Blaze was… well, HARD. 2 minutes in the red zone (according to my MyZone Heart rate belt) was enough to make me physically sick. Also, FUN FACT, you wanna see what an anxiety attack looks like from my heart’s perspective? Here you go:

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With the benefit of over two hours of deep sleep and a lovely long chat with my Physio I am much better mentally. Physically however, I am exhausted. There needs to be lots of tea and quite possibly a very large sandwich because really, truthfully, this needs to be more fun than it is right now and last night was not fun.

Weigh In:
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Next up on the list of priorities is edit the novel that I want to enter for various things. It’s in a corner and won’t come out right now, which is going to require some work from me that, probably up until yesterday I wasn’t capable of doing. Then, it is probably an idea to sit down with all the other half-finished pieces of work and set up some kind of priority order with them.

There’s a phenomenal amount of work to do on some: is it worth it? Should I be brutal and start from scratch? It will be considerably easier going forward to ignore a lot of old content, but some of it will have value. I’m going to need to learn how to edit again: simple enough, but brutality is not one of my strong points. It will help that this weekend I’m away and that my brain doesn’t have to think about anything important or stressful.

Yes, I really am very tired.

This is It

I walked to the Gym this morning for the first time in a while: pavements were slippery and required some thought, sky was the Winter Blue of post-storm optimism, and my hip and back were not happy. However, after an hour of exercise, and some heavy weights, things have definitely improved. It has taken a few days to grasp the transformation that has taken place since August: it is also apparent that to make the next step forward, it will be diet that has to change.

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On considered research, I’m going to replace lunch every day with a Huel shake. This will continue to provide a protein hit, but reduce my normal food intake (hopefully) enough to kick-start the fat burning processes. This also appeases that part of me which knows only too well that to save the planet I need to be eating less meat and more plants. I’ve enough cash left after Christmas to afford 4 week’s supply, which means January’s food intake is sorted.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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It was genuinely scary getting on the scales on Friday. I’ll do it again after Christmas, but not before. Food logging’s about to get very serious indeed, because to lose what needs to vanish, there’s gotta be a whole lotta hard work. I’m ready for all this.

This has become the most unexpected of transformations.

Down Down

Weight, inexorably, is falling. Undoubtedly the second Blaze class will help, with understanding that if this weight is going to be shifted, I will have to sweat like something that sweats a very great deal to do so. As a result of yesterday however, this is becoming increasingly less of a problem.

The classes have become a complement to the normal weights and running, which means now that a) this is using my membership to its natural limit and b) it provides individually-led exercise three times a week. I’ve not cycled for nearly a fortnight at home, however, and that will end up being added to the schedule properly over Christmas. The plan, such as it is right now, is to keep stuff ticking over as much as possible across a range of activities.

If that keeps happening, presumably thinner will then occur in due course.

It’s bloody hard work, that much is obvious. However, there’s method in all of this madness.

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The whole point of Blaze, like it or not, is to shove you up to the Red Zone in terms of heart-rate. Zwift Running conveniently provides me with zonal indicators too: to be burning fat, the more time spent in green and yellow the better, where orange and red allow that fat burn to take place after I’ve stopped exercising. Therefore, anything in green and above = progress. After Zwift tomorrow we’ll take a look at the numbers, and weight on the Gym’s bio-metric scale will be taken on Friday.

YES, THIS IS HAPPENING.

Running on Ice

Okay then, time to be honest.

We are reaching a crossroads in the training regime. I used to kid myself I’d go and ‘run’ at the Gym, but actually it was all HIIT work, no more than 500 meters at a time. Then Blaze came along and suddenly I was forced to run for 3 minutes at a time without a break. That forced a rethink. So now, I try and run a KM at a time, with a break. This is proving quite hard.

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The red line there is my heart-rate, which sat steadfastly in the amber zone when flat out and does not appear to be capable of hitting red which is absolutely fine because honestly, I would have hurled. That, today was 1km on, 1km off, and me getting to 800 meters before my lungs pretty much told me to fuck off. I’m not sure how this gets broken, to be honest, other than exhaustion, recovery and then the same again. Building stamina is hateful. Yet, undoubtedly, something has begun to change.

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I’ve booked a second Blaze class. Not gonna lie, it is because the teacher made me feel really comfortable, and there’s a definite positive to having someone else teach me other than my PT. My membership supports this so frankly, it’s time to get my money’s worth. If it all works out next week, I’ll reorganise January’s exercise around the change. What needs to happen is more pushing, and less slacking, though considering the number of hours I now do, maybe a bit of slacking can go on over Christmas without getting too stressed.

We’ll have an overview at the end of December, i think.

The Comfort of Strangers

This article appeared at an apposite moment this morning, after a night of Blaze which was, for the first time, questioned as being worthwhile.

I went to Blaze without any kind of body monitoring: Fitbit was left at home, no heart rate belt was borrowed. The freedom this gave was, it must be said, quite considerable, and that’s the first point to make. This class’ main selling point is showing you  EXACTLY how much work you’ve done. I’ve monitored my exercise via heart rate monitors for seven years in January. SEVEN YEARS. I don’t need to know sometimes. It’s just more liberating not having the silent judgement there as an ever-present, waggling finger. If I am only in competition with myself, last night giving my mind a night off was a very sound idea.

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The second point is the notion of ‘enjoyment’: my husband asked last night if the class was fun. No, it wasn’t. I was so tired at the end everything hurt, struggled doing every exercise and even the running/jogging was, quite frankly, horrendous. At the end all that was wanted was sleep, and I couldn’t, because brain frankly refused to ramp down from the stress that was generated. However, this time around, that manifested far less externally and considerably more internally.

So, why bother if this is the result? Well, there’s been an important realisation overnight, meaning I am glad that the effort was made. This isn’t about the exercise, or the heart rate recording, or indeed around the other people that are taking part. Last night’s class was only seven people, and even with the reduction in numbers there was no change in the level of internal panic. This really is about how my brain processes information, and the translation of that into action.

My stress generates from what I’m being asked to do.

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I’ve been taught by three people thus far, all of whom have been informed in advance  about my comprehension issues. They all have been faultless in not only support but encouragement, but all of this is irrelevant. My frustration is the translation of what is seen into what needs to be done, and that it takes so much mental effort to transform that into the associated physical actions. So, this week in Blaze class I learnt that enjoyment may never ever happen if brain takes everything as an exercise in accuracy and perfection.

The biggest problem, it appears, is trying to achieve what subconscious considers as perfect.

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I’m booked for next week, and in the intervening period there’ll be some thought given to how enjoyment can be obtained, or whether it is in fact obtainable at all. The amount I have learnt since this journey was begun has far exceeded expectation, and makes a push out of the comfort zones more than worthwhile. Maybe if this were a younger me there could be the thought of being less harsh on myself… Life has become worth living thanks to the constant reminders just how miserable I was in the days when nothing was ever done that was frightening.

I was the problem, back then. Sure, there’s lots of other stuff that can be blamed, but ultimately had I know realised that it was up to me? We’d not be here at all. So, when you are capable of not only accepting shortcomings, but prepared to push past them… that’s what has to happen. Eventually, if the time is taken to listen to your own mind and soul, there are solutions.

The biggest problem of all, of course, is explaining this rationally to other people.

Do I Do

WordPress have introduced an upgrade to their editing pane. Whether I like this or not remains to be seen: a user can still edit raw HTML, so that’s fine, and we’ll see how it goes as time goes on. However, I’m not here to complain about change [inevitable, unstoppable] but how I react to it. Right, how does one stick a horizontal rule in now…?

[EDIT: The new Editor won’t let me specify Twitter posting options. Until it does? We’ll stick with actual flexibility and not showy cleverness :D]


Witness the Fitness

I weighed myself yesterday on the home scales, which has not happened since mid-October. Part of the plan was to get myself out of the daily habit of micromanaging rise and fall, and that’s worked really well. In 25 days, I’ve lost no weight. I’ve not gained any either, which should be the bigger takeaway, but what has happened is a fairly drastic alteration of body shape.

So, tomorrow I’m gonna go do the bio-metric weight scale at the Gym, which will show a weight gain, as there is considerably more muscle than fat on me right now. The problem, going forward, is how the latter gets shifted from areas it has been stuck to for the last 18 years. The current health regime will have an effect, it already is. I haven’t ached this much for at least a year.

Five times a week on the bike as well as PT was doable for a few months last year before the arm was injured and it all fell apart. HOPEFULLY the same problem won’t present this year, though there have been a number of unexpected aches and trapped nerves as muscles grow beyond their normal dimensions. The key of course, is to make sure there is rest (Saturdays has no exercise at all, I’ll probably skip Gym training Tuesdays too after PT which now happens on Monday.

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Time to stop typing and get on with it, then.

Hot Stuff

I need a weights-themed header. I’ll get on that.

The last time, up until this time last week, that I’d done an organised exercise class was shortly after the birth of the eldest. That was eighteen years ago. My local health emporium has recently trashed the two squash courts adjacent to their Gym facilities and built a room in which, I now discover, a peculiar form of torture takes place. Blaze, as the lovely promotional video indicates, is a particularly viscous combination of running, weights and hitting stuff. All this is done with an element of theatre and some quite loud dance music accompaniment.

To support my current PT (whose job going forward will be to run a weekly class) there was a promise to at least try a session. It was, without a doubt, one of the most frightening things I’ve ever done. After thirty three minutes came the first total sensory overload experienced since the ASD diagnosis in June, and I almost ran out of the room. Only then did I realise that you’re locked in, presumably as a means of protecting the rather expensive range of equipment enclosed within.

So, why am I now booked in for my second class tomorrow, you may ask?

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Part of that decision was to do with the support I was given by the secondary trainer who’ll be taking tomorrow’s class (as my PT’s on annual leave) after my unscheduled exit from the room. Not only was she receptive to my issues when told, she suggested breaking the sequences down into stages. Each ’round’ in a full class of 24 includes a section running, lifting and punching (with a TRX Suspension kit presumably used in tandem.) Learning the sequence of exercises is tough when you have so little time, especially for the woman with deficiency in learning abilities who struggles when presented with an excess of sensory input.

My PT has also reinforced this commitment to making the process work by helping introduce me to basic skills required in future weeks, especially in the field of mixed martial arts. Without both of these ladies’ care and commitment, I’d not be going back. To make sure they get the correct amount of thanks at the right level, after this blog is done (and it’s taken almost a week to pull thoughts together) I’ll be e-mailing the Club to extend my gratitude personally. I’ve bought my own gloves, pulled out my ANT-compatible Heart Rate monitor, and tomorrow we aim to complete one round of the process well.

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It is very easy to place obstacles in your path when trying to change long-term habits. For some time now finding the means to push mind out of comfort zones has been a challenge: Blaze presents me with two unique problems to overcome. Firstly, there is the physical intensity of a class that demands a great deal in terms of effort to ensure long-term benefit. More importantly, there is the mental challenges of taking instructions, acting on them, and doing what needs to be done well. Only by being able to combine both of these successfully will there be any meaningful progress.

It was also quite amusing, the morning after my first class, to be sent an e-mail by the club congratulating me on ‘smashing’ the session. I appreciate the elements of theatre and self-congratulation that marketing clearly thinks will make me feel better about myself, but it’s completely pointless. You don’t know how awful I felt not finishing. You don’t understand how hard this is to rationalise. A generic e-mail is not the way to make me feel good about my progress. That revelation came from real people. Perhaps there could be more focus on the people training and less bells and whistles going forward.

I don’t need exercise as distraction: to embrace it as a lifestyle choice there will always need to be a personal connection.

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I’ve changed beyond recognition in the last three years, thanks in part to the people who have offered advice and training along the way. However, in the end, I know it is my effort and hard work which keeps the goals shifting. When asked yesterday what kind of weight I’d dream of lifting going forward, I was honest with my PT. I just want to keep lifting. I want to keep pushing boundaries and overcoming fears and move forwards. This isn’t about maintenance and complacency. Every day should be a school day. Each session should give a sense of progress.

Fitness has to become a part of individual evolution.