Up and Down

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the wonderful world of unplanned Interval Training.

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I didn’t go out this morning to do anything other than an hour on the Treadmill, let’s be honest. Normally that involves some brisk walking and a bit of running, but today I decided after a 5 minute warm-up to change things up a bit. I have a Cardio exercise that happens on a Weights day that mixes 300m of running with a 100m ‘rest’ but that’s not stop then start, it remains walking pace, and a brisk one at that. It’s what pro trainers will refer to as active recovery: a way to help you increase stamina during what would effectively be a rest day from intense physical activity. Today however I decided that I’d push myself into something more than just making a token effort. That meant 500m at 6kph and 500m at 8kph, which is less than my new ‘maximum’ speed and has effectively replaced the ‘jog’ I would do when learning how to run correctly.

The first 500m was horrible, as is always the case, and the second (as my heart rate attests) was harder and then on 2500-3000m? It got easier: I hit a Runner’s High and suddenly, amazingly, I was in a place I’ve not managed to reach since the high impact journey began. As I came down to relax I didn’t, as (again) the heart rate demonstrates, because what I could easily have done is do a full mile without stopping. That was a surprise, and the next two 500m bursts were similarly simple, and I pushed hard on both… and then, unsurprisingly, I just ran out of fuel completely. The last plateau is a period of incline just to keep my heart up, whilst my lungs recovered… and then my hour was up.

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It must have been effective because I was dripping with sweat once I’d done, and was asked by a member of staff if I was okay. I don’t look good after exercise: my face, chest and back were still bright red for an hour after I’d done. In terms of active recovery that was probably too much work, but as an exercise in interval training it was a standard I can see myself now working towards every Sunday. My normal Monday PT has been scheduled to Friday next week, to accommodate the first of my son’s GCSE assessments. That gives me a Push day tomorrow and a Pull on Wednesday, but the need to look at active recovery in between. I won’t do this again any more than weekly, but it does now make me consider what can be done in the days in between.

When you go into situations not expecting anything at all, it is often the moment to surprise yourself. I know today an important line was crossed, if only because I stopped worrying about anything except running, and on reflection I didn’t do much of that to begin with. It just happened: I did the miles and nothing was a problem. I didn’t feel out of breath, or uncomfortable. For a moment, I was like everybody else exercising and able to hold my own without my brain scuppering the entire endeavour. Lungs and body combined to produce the best session of off-day exercise I’ve probably managed since I started this journey nearly a year ago. The next step, is to keep doing the same until it becomes habit, and then move on.

You know, I think I might be capable of pulling this off.

Learning to Breathe :: Update #1

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In Shock News? No weight loss this week. I’m exactly the same. Normally this might be enough to annoy me, but absolutely not today, despite the fact I’m battling demons. This is utterly good enough, because I know I only pushed myself three times last week (and this was during the three exercise sessions I made time for.) There was no extra walking thanks to the boiler incident, and the cold stopped me being outside. Yup, still cold this week but assuming there is no issue with domestic problems I’m organised and ready to insert at least two walks into the schedule. If I can keep my appetite from scuppering everything? I can hope to see that number go down. I can already see the fat on my stomach beginning to break down and diminish.

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Therefore, there cannot as yet be any kind of victory dance. HOWEVER, I am confident this is the start of the big step forwards. My PT’s being brilliant, trying to stop me fixating on the weight as my be all and end all, and of course she’s right. I am superbly efficient right now in the converting fat to muscle ‘thing’ and I’m so much stronger than I have ever been. My homework for the week is to keep a strict record of exactly how much exercise gets done and to keep on inputting my food/calories. If I can keep that going, something will finally give.

Yes, it totally will.

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.

Run to the Hills

It should have happened yesterday, but I wasn’t ready. My first proper, serious workout session without a PT to hold my hand had the potential to be stress incarnate, but I’m lucky enough to have a trainer who understands my fears, and can help me plan to beat them as well as my targets. That meant a well planned session of cardio and weights, that she wrote down for me in detail, noting all the things I’d need to organise beforehand, then told me to transcribe the whole thing to my Phone. That was the first masterstroke, I now grasp, because I had to understand what I was being asked, recall the instructions she’d given on Monday, and then add my own take on what was needed to move forward.

However, that was the easy bit. The genuinely frightening part was arriving this morning post School Run to find the ‘grown up’ part of the Gym where the weights and the bar was full of beautiful, fit and incredibly intimidating people. I’d gone early in the hope there’d be nobody about but nope, totally rammed. I had a choice: did I stay or run? My favourite treadmill (YES I HAVE THAT) was free and I took this as a sign. At some point you have to decide what matters most and just fucking get on with it. So, I did.
 
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If you don’t understand how frightening it is to have to be around people on days you’re unable to cope with yourself, I’ll never convince you otherwise. I decided the way to best deal with panic was to ignore everything and concentrate on my music, and so I did. I ran for 20 minutes, up and down inclines, and could still breathe at the end. I used the scary Watt Bike and remembered all the settings, and I didn’t slack, doing everything that I’d been told to, despite at this point feeling like my lungs were going to explode. Getting to the weights was actually a relief, until I realised I’d be lifting between two blokes built like bungalows. My arms wobbled, I sweated buckets. The fat rolls popped out from my tucked in shirt. I focused on the music and just did the exercises.

Then when I got to the weightlifting bar, I made eye contact with someone and it all went a bit Pete TongI didn’t imagine the other guy staring as I took off weights and I couldn’t work out if he was amused or encouraging, so I just ignored him and did the sets. As I concentrated more on the music and less on the people around me, it started to be enjoyable. I began to stop worrying and by the time I got to the last set of push ups, I was having fun. It is true that a lot of the time your perception of the world is adversely affected when you allow others to dictate your actions: once I locked everything out, the whole journey stopped being about those around me and all about myself. I even did stretches for warm down and was able to do one leg balances with a measure of confidence. I was mentally and physically exhausted, but I’d completed 80 minutes of genuine physical exertion.

#365photochallenge The last mouthful of reward after my first successful solo weights session.

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The reward isn’t just poached eggs on toast. My PT was training herself this morning, and she saw me working. I don’t have to pretend I’m doing the work or lie to her, I’m able to accomplish all these things alone, whereas a year ago even the thought of such endeavour would have frightened me into inactivity. That’s the biggest benefit from all of this, quite apart from the hope I will lose the weight that is desired. The fear that you’re constantly fighting everything including yourself, that can push you to a complete stop, is what can now be used to drive my needs to fruition. I found myself this morning, as I lifted dumbbells, remembering the awkward girl who used to dream of running and never had the confidence to look past her illness. That time seems a long way away now, and regret at not starting this sooner is as big a pain as the past that fuels me now. All you can do is survive, and move on.

It is all about the journey, and never the destination.

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That was a Push Day. Saturday will be a Pull Day. I have a selection of exercises, and lots of motivation. For the first time in a while, I’m genuinely looking forward to my next session. I may revise that tomorrow if both legs and arms don’t work but for now?

This is the happiest I’ve ever been.
 

Big Time

We have crossed an important threshold, readers. I have a full on organised exercise plan. It’s over there, taunting me to shove it on my phone. Three times a week, Push and Pull Days, stupidly hard Cardio requirements and I’m now wondering if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. My PT seemed confident I’m capable. I’ve taken on board the task of losing 5 kgs by the end of March. For those of you still working in old money, that’s 11 stone 3 pounds. The plan is set.

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Now there’s a plan, I have to record everything. This isn’t nearly as frightening as being given exercises to do down the Grown Up end of the Gym. I have bar lifts and all sorts. It’s incredibly brilliant however, that this is the most organised I’ve ever been in exercise terms. I am ready to accept the challenge. I’ve still not eaten anything bad, and we’re almost 10 days into the month. Tea tastes so much better without the honey. I haven’t craved chocolate yet. It’s becoming apparent that hormones drove an awful lot of my bad eating decisions over the years and now they no longer have a hold on my body? It is possible to kick the habits.

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Right now, I can see the body I want beginning to form. What has to happen now is the last push to get to the target weight but that’s nowhere near the whole story. Once get to the finish, I have to stay there. That’s a bigger issue to deal with, long term. I’d still like a home made bread and butter pudding and the occasional slice of cake from time to time, after all. My biggest problem undoubtedly however is never having managed the willpower and ability to set a fitness goal and meet it. 2017 is when that changes.

Bring on the Hard Bastard Exercise Plan :D

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.

The Long Run

I’ve not said too much about this week in Fitness, but I’ve been running every day since this time last Friday. In fact, I would have done so today but common sense is telling me that I need a rest, and rather than push myself through something that would end up sending me backwards? #50Kin50Days ends up as an exercise in being sensible and not doing summat purely for the sake of writing about it. I think, moving forward, that will be one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt going forward into 2017. There’s only one person to be doing all this for and it is yourself, and that’s why I’m here.

That means in the long run that I need to be a lot more sensitive to what my body is capable of managing.

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In the short term, this will mean that as long as I keep my 7 day total above 12k, I will be happy, as that is my daily total. I will run as often as body allows, but on due consideration I will need at least one day a week where nothing significant takes place. Once upon a time I’d try and schedule that but as I’m doing the run thing I’ll simply let my body stress dictate the timescale. I had a sports massage this afternoon that was previously scheduled before I started the plan, and I’m conscious of aggravating anything as a result. That means an afternoon of laundry, attempting to avoid food cravings and the realisation that if I can, I could be further down in weight before Christmas. It’s even harder when the entire house is full of Xmas nibbles, and I will admit to having three small chocolates and a handful of snacks, but nothing too fattening.

Self control has come on leaps and bounds.

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Once upon a time I would cheat myself, and try not to be surprised when that would be mirrored by the scales. I know a lot of my issues with weight stem from the backwards and forwards I used to do with what went into my body, but now I’ve passed what I suspect is a significant threshold. I completely understand what is bad for me, and that is anything taken to excess. If I overdo the healthy, it comes back to bite me just as much as being bad and having things that will simply make me want to further transgress. Getting balance has always been the hardest thing in the world to achieve, but now I know about what matters most, that if I allow myself simply to get on and not worry, the sides are a lot easier to balance. Most importantly of all, I cannot now see a day when I won’t want some kind of physical exercise in the equation. Even now I know I have to move once an hour, I can’t sit here and vegetate any more.

Once you practice stuff enough, it does become habit. That’s why I’ll be at the Gym tomorrow morning and I’ll run 3k again to make sure that Wednesday wasn’t a fluke, that the energy levels that were there can be duplicated. It means I will run Christmas Day, outside, and not be scared of the prospect. In fact, I’m quite looking forward to it.