The Old Songs :: Two

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Okay, I’m back at a PC: I took a tablet with me across the weekend, but there was simply not enough time to write. Honestly, the last three days have been more packed than has been the case for MONTHS… and I want to make sure I get it all recorded before memories fade. Therefore, let us start with Friday night, and I’ll detail Saturday and Sunday starting next week.

Dinner: Prawns, courgette fries BOOM

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This time, we left early as last year’s driving around in the dark in a strange place was, to put it mildly, quite stressful. Once the Hotel was found and we’d checked in, the next task was to find somewhere to eat. Having missed dinner, we were directed by hotel Staff to The Old Dog at Ashbourne, and dinner was simplicity and brilliance all rolled into a small, perfectly formed package. Mr Alt took a burger and I went healthy, until I ordered a pint of Rhubarb Cider and everything went downhill very fast. It was, more or less, like drinking highly alcoholic cordial, and there could have been many, MANY glasses bought. Fortunately, common sense prevailed, because the plan for Saturday morning was to cycle to the event.

Thanks to the wonderful way the railways were fairly savagely shut down back in the 1960’s [see Beeching’s Cuts] there are a lot of cycle paths around the Derbyshire Peak District, one of which is conveniently located at the back where we were staying, effectively providing a direct route to Eroica’s doorstep. Nine and a bit miles is more distance than I’ve taken on in any form since the operation, so I’ll admit being nervous, and that’s probably why not too much got drunk on Friday night. My bike was bought especially for the occasion: a Nigel Dean World Tour (circa 1982) which is now, I suspect, going to get a complete overhaul, and we were up bright and early on Saturday morning to do the run to the event.

You can have those stories tomorrow, after I’ve had a much needed night’s sleep in my own bed…

This is the Day

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Once this is written, I’ll be off to the Gym, for my first ‘serious’ hit at exercise since the Operation.

When I say ‘serious’ I am well aware I cannot go back to the level of exercise I was doing before. However, what can take place is a restart with glutes and obliques, strengthening my core muscles, and see how push ups and planks will work. I can also go back to the Octane machine for a lovely gentle all-over body warm up. My Trainer has details of what can and cannot be done, and on Monday I fully expect to be given stuff to keep me occupied. What can happen in the intervening period is lots of walking, and an emphasis on making sure moving is prioritised over inactivity.

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Most importantly of all, my thirst for writing fiction has resurfaced. I have a plan to completely re-write the start of my main WIP, based on some ideas that have surfaced since the Operation. I also have a 2000 word short story to complete for the upcoming Internet of Words project, which will be kicking into high gear this weekend. There’s probably a series of posts on my mental state post-operation as well, because I’m only now beginning to grasp just how much better I feel psychologically as a result of the gallbladder removal.

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Let’s start the way I mean to go on. Every day from now on starts with the Personal Post. If you want to know what’s going on in my head? Here’s where to find it. Every so often, I’ll post a nugget of personal background too.

Let’s make this place earn its keep, shall we?

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Back to the Grind 😄#photographer #365photochallenge

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Some days EVERYTHING is hard work. The first day back after the Easter break was a 6.30am wake up call. My subconscious again was out to scupper me but it was pushed through and dealt with, I had to go a completely different route to and from school thanks to multiple accidents, and I’ve just come back from a Gym session that REALLY hurt. I didn’t do what I’d planned but it doesn’t matter, it was a lot of calories burnt and many things lifted and that is perfectly fine. Sometimes it isn’t about the plan but just turning up.

Today I was DEFINITELY not phoning anything in.

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Once the youngest is home and I’ve paid off my IOU for 10 games of Mariokart, I’ll be all over the Writing site with the first stage of redesign. After that, I’ll stop talking about it here and do all the chatting over there, so this place can go back to regularly scheduled wibbling. I may just have enough time for a cuppa before I have to leave…

Pull Me In

Today was the day for the second part of my new Exercise Plan: it was Pull day, but before I got to that? There was Cardio. BOY, was there Cardio. It looked really simple on my Phone: a bit on the Cross Trainer, then some running/walking. Except I wasn’t ready for what I ended up having to do: the first part of the exercise genuinely pushed me to a standstill, and normally that would mean a longer rest and no more cardio. Not today, and the running was the most painful and difficult thing I’ve done since I started this whole journey in May. At the end of 20 minutes I was in tears, and physically could not do any more. I was 800 metres short of my target.

I have never worked this hard at exercise in my entire life.

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The weights were a blur, I’ll have to admit, I’m still stuck in the moment when I realised there was nothing left in my legs and I needed to find 800 meters from somewhere. I’ll admit this to my Trainer, of course, but I did it, both sessions, with pretty much everything I was asked to do. It’s a massive step forward from where I was this time last year, and that’s as much about having the ability to push through fear as it has about pain. The music I’ve picked as my new Treadmill accompaniment had a lot to do with it as well: I imagine myself singing it, in my head, and it helps me keep energy and enthusiasm for the work I’m doing. In fact, the louder the song in my mind, the more passion leaks out into the work.

It really does work, too.

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The next part of this plan of course is to see if my exercise plus judicious eating will really equal weight loss. I’m hoping to at least see something on Monday, but accept it’s just as likely I’ll see exactly where I am with more muscle mass. I won’t know until I get on the scales on Monday, but I’m going to be virtuously good until then. No fry up tomorrow, and certainly a session on the Treadmill at some point on Sunday, even if it’s only an extended session of walking. I have the bit between my teeth now.

I have so fucking got this.

The Big Sky

It was ‘Back to Work’ Day for me at the Gym this morning, and I walked both to and from the site despite slippery pavements and just above freezing temperatures. Once upon a time I could use a footbridge across the main road I need to cross but the Council in their wisdom have taken it away and now it’s dodge the traffic time, which makes me decidedly nervous. However, it is what it is, and so I will get used to the change. An hour’s worth of pretty brutal PT later? MANY things have changed for the better.

  • Running is no longer a chore. Spending two weeks making myself do the work has taken most of the fear away.
  • Recovery times are very much up and I can speak a lot sooner after being pushed.
  • I’m lifting more weight, and doing it consistently better.

However, there is a limit now to what my lung capacity can provide which means burst exercise (for want of a better phrase) is still really tough. The trick now is to measure my effort, and to try and not go full out at the start of sets and instead take a more long term approach to what needs to be done. However, I can row 250 metres in a minute flat out. Don’t ask me to do much after that, mind, but there’s another benchmark to add to the rapidly increasing pile. I’m leg pressing 50KG and feel confident enough to go up to 60, and generally speaking this is a pretty perfect place to start the year in.

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The next piece in the puzzle therefore is food. I’ve used My Fitness Pal to log my intake for a while, but it’s never really been taken that seriously. That changes today, and I will ensure that, for as long as possible, everything that’s eaten is recorded. It is often a thankless task, and if I snack this just makes things worse. This will be the hardest task of all in the next four weeks, without a shadow of a doubt, because I know only too well the temptation to go ‘oh I won’t log that, it’s only x calories.’ The only way this works is if I play by the rules, however annoying and frustrating they may become.

After that, it is a very simple equation: if I want to lose weight, the amount I eat in calories must, every day, be less than the number of calories I burn doing exercise. That means, I’ll be off to the shops on foot shortly to add to my daily step total. I’ll be in the Gym every day this week, either running or exercising generally. My PT is going to help me create a new exercise plan to start working more than just my core muscle groups. After that, I just have to hope the changes to diet and lifestyle finally have the required effect.

In the end, that is all I can ever do.

Ready To Go

And so 2017 begins. I’m too old to be phased by this shit any more, and I sure as fuck know that making any sweeping promises on Day One is just asking for trouble when the month goes to double figures. Therefore, let us begin with the small and attainable goals, right here on the table.

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HEALTH

I could be out there in the rain, suffering for my art, but I don’t need that today. What is more important at this point is laying the foundations for the real, hard work moving forward. This requires me therefore to ignore all sugar, processed or otherwise, for at least a 14 day period so my body remembers what it’s like to burn fat again and not derive all its energy from tea and sweeties. Tomorrow I have a meeting with my PT who will ask me if I want to go full-on hard bastard in losing the last of my weight, to which I am going to say yes. I’ve been running pretty much every other day since Christmas, and most days before, so this form of exercise no longer frightens or intimidates, and my chest is back to pre-infection levels. That means we’re going for it. I will need the cast iron will out, and to not give up because I’m tired and it’s hard. YES I CAN DO THIS.

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WORDS

Tomorrow I’ll send a sample of my words to a grown up who’s never met me and only knows me via Twitter, and we’ll see if I can begin a professional relationship with an Editor. The novel is now back in writing mode, with editing on the side. I’ve set myself a realistic timeframe to write a long-form essay, and I’m actively pursuing writing jobs. That means I have a CV now. Yeah, I’ve never owned one before, but that changed yesterday, and once husband takes a look at the last few edits, I’m going to start submitting job applications. Sadly, because I am not J.K Rowling, my writing career will not pay for itself on current subsistence levels: summat has to change. So, I prove I’m capable of getting work, and I can maybe afford a luxury or two going forward. I’d dearly love a new PC, for instance, and that’s not happening any time soon. The only way I make progress is with sacrifice, and if that means less free time, so be it.

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FOOD

Here’s a heading I’d not have considered could get use at the start of last year. Sure, I’ve cooked some things for myself before, but if you told me last month I’d be enjoying making my own breakfast the night before, I would have laughed at you. In good news this is not about to transform into a foodie blog overnight, because I know how my bread is buttered (^^) and nope, this is not my future. It is however, a necessary part of the journey where I can see what goes into my body because I put it there. I suspect there will be pictures, therefore, of what I do and how it arrives at the state I serve it in. I don’t make any pretensions at being Mary Berry either. There will not be brilliant cake or superb meals from scratch. I’m reading everybody else’s crib notes whenever possible. However there are already the beginnings of a desire to experiment, and that’s no bad thing.

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PICTURES

I got a new Sony Digital camera for Christmas. I asked for it with one desire in mind, to walk around with the lovely retro case my husband bought and show people that is what I’m doing. I’m taking pictures. I want to document the world around me better. One of the things I’ve done with the Mac Mini I use for mail and music is set my pictures from last year up as inspiration, to make me realise I don’t take a bad snap. I should use them as motivation and that is certainly the plan going forward in January. There’s a ton of stuff from New York I’ve been staring at and been stimulated by already. This will never be a bad thing.

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PERSONAL

Gonna try and post every day on Instagram, here and on the Warcraft blog. The writing one will get love too, but only when I’m finished with the workload. I might serialise summat again. There’ll be more non-fiction words there too. I’m getting more confident with personal pictures, and have changed my Instagram profile to reflect this. I love working in B&W. Need to smile more. Gotta be more confident in my ability to be capable. DEFINITELY need to run more and have a better waist. So much to do, and always so little time.


Better get on, then.

Life in Tokyo

I’m at the Gym, earlier today, looking at the people working on a Friday lunchtime and realising I’m the only one sweating. The women either side of me are perfect, thin specimens with co-ordinated clothing and beautiful hair and yet neither of them perspire at all. They run like mice, all scurry in the legs, yet neither appear to expend any calories at all. I’m dripping after my first 500 metres of running and it gets worse, I begin to smell unpleasant at 3k and decide to put in a 5 % gradient for the penultimate mile to give my legs some variety. As the pair get off I realise I probably pissed them off by taking the treadmill between them and preventing them from talking, and the look one throws back at me as she leaves is enough for me to consider giving the finger back. No, that’s not polite, but I can sure as fuck think it after the event.

My second major objective in 2017 is Persistence, which means running until legs ache and body drips. I don’t care what I look like in the Gym, I’m there to work, not win a beauty contest. Doing life properly is accepting that occasionally I do have to look decent, but at all the times in between it’s a frippery that’s not necessarily needed, especially not during exercise. I really don’t understand people who turn up, do the minimum amount of work and go home again. I do understand however that sometimes people do shit to make them feel as if they are making a difference to their own lives, and if that involves you never wearing out running shows or getting holes in the ankles of your leggings because you’re a fucking short arse and they’re always too long? Honestly, totally fine.

You are what you are, and this is what it is.

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As time goes on, I want to spend less time being something I’m not or will never be. There are better things to be doing, after all, than pretending to enjoy not eating. I fucking love my food, and despite trying my damnedest to lose half a stone (quite possibly more) and keep it off in January I am going full into cooking my own stuff and making more sensible meal and menu choices. I really would like, if I can, to cut out as much junk for as is conceivably possible going forward. It will be interesting to see how far I can take this and how much is achievable considering my current lifestyle choices. This is probably the biggest step in the dark I’ve taken for a while, but already it is bearing fruit.

Yesterday was a passable Chicken Casserole I’m already planning on making better. Tomorrow will be Pulled Pork. None of this will get me on Masterchef, but it’s a step towards further autonomy and helping make the most of what we have available. That’s all it ever has to be, one step after the other, until you’re not afraid to run.

I learnt how to do that in 2016. Now I can, there’s just so many new places I can go.