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.

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…

Look Up

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Lying awake at 5.30 am this morning, a lot was running through a mind that was desperate for sleep, but simply wasn’t capable. I know why this was, that when I take a Rest Day now my body doesn’t know what to do with itself. Yesterday, however, was a hugely productive session of writing, planning and organisation. It was worth the time at the desk but reminded me that I need to be making better use of the moments when that’s what is supposed to be happening. This morning, therefore, even though I’m tired, it is the opportunity to start getting ahead.

I should take the time to acknowledge my ability more often.

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It is now a bit of a joke that most days I don’t know what’s going on: planning has become as much a part of existence as exercise and writing. If I don’t want to do something, more often than not, it is because there’s a shinier displacement activity giving me a suggestive look from the sidelines. However, without the mundane stuff, I don’t have a quality of life that’s significant. Therefore this week is about biting the bullet and getting some of the boring, mundane shit out of the way. To make this task more appealing, I will be sticking Post It notes in appropriate places to remind me of what needs to be done in this particular area.

Let’s see how attractive I can make the horrendous by this method.

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I managed to get the prototype handmade gift made yesterday and have one of the eight final items completed, and reckon now I have the hang of it the rest is easily doable in November downtime. Then it is simply a case of completing the written portion of affairs: I’ve provisioned Thursday as a writing day for lots of odds and ends, and I’ll make the template needed for these gifts before seeing if I can twist my husband’s arm to help in production. I’ve also gotta go walk a bit further today to see how many extra steps my longer, more convoluted trip to the Gym gives… though on reflection I’ll do a shorter trip there and longer back today as that allows more chance to front-load content.

This whole post is, therefore, a reminder to myself: WORK HARDER, make all the time count as something productive and when you relax, make that matter too. Your time here is short and is not worth wasting on stuff that does not make you happy. Therefore: read more, laugh more and enjoy the simple pleasures of existence for you have no idea how long they will last. Have a good day, and make the most of every second.

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.

The In Crowd

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I used to find excuses to stay at home. Gaming was a great one, absolutely cracking means by which I could avoid Reality, in all its forms. Now, I need excuses not to go out, and rarely find them. Today however I am at the beck and call of the Amazon delivery bloke, which is fine because there’s stuff needed for the rest of the day. However, as soon as the three parcels are signed for, I’m outta here. A lot of the chores are out of my hands: two bodyshop visits, dry cleaners, supermarket. However today I not only get to try and beat my best time for 10 miles on the bike, but it is Running Day at the Gym.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about my competitive urges in the last few weeks: I realised quite early on in this adventure this is not about using other people’s benchmarks to measure my progress. Weight’s also hugely unproductive to use as an indicator of attainment (as we have already discussed this week) and as I’ve put on muscle weight AGAIN this week thanks to increased leg and arse use? The only real indicators of progress I have are times and frequency. The first two days of cycling were pretty much minimum of effort to adjust to the process. Yesterday evening, I pushed. It wasn’t even that: the occasional burst of power, sprint section of the Track. However, there was undoubtedly more energy in my legs than has existed. This morning, with the benefit of a lie in?

I want to get out and exercise before I do anything else.

Although the markers are, in most cases, against other people (virtually) or a ‘good time’ (depending on my age) the only person I am ever competing with is myself. I don’t require  a race or medal to prove hard work or validation. I suppose that is why finally that gaming no longer has its compulsive claws fixed into me, because however many carrots may be dangled from sticks I’m just not hungry any more: desires have subtly altered in the last couple of years. I’ll have plenty of time to play once I’ve done all the other (far more important) stuff that needs doing.

Oh, there’s the doorbell.

Come and See Me

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Slowly but surely, I am unpicking the issues that constrict my life.

Yesterday was an evening Gym session, because there was so much work to do here, and stepping on the Octane I wondered if I’d even manage one mile, so tired did I feel. Then I stopped my brain and rationalised: a mile is six minutes. Pick the right track on your playlist and that will fly by. Find something that makes you feel positive, preferably something you used as a writing prompt. I’m beginning to grasp how many other people live vicariously through their wish fulfilment (whether it be art, music or writing) and last night, it was the Bond fanfic music prompts that not only got me through three miles of Octane as a warm up, but another three kilometres of High Impact Intensity Training (300 metres walking, 200 meters running at 9 kph.) I’ve never done HIIT for that long before, my legs give out after 2.5k pretty much consistently. However, when I got there last night, something was different.

Last night, I felt I had it in my legs. Suddenly, breathing at 9kph has become less of a fight and more a rhythm. The first 200 meters is always hard but after that, it was simply instinct. I’ve only felt this way once before and that was before I was ill, the brilliant Sunday before it all went wrong on the Monday evening, and it occurs to me that it is diet that has as much to do with this as anything else. Yesterday was very intentionally virtuous, not simply for the photo opportunity. I can eat well, if it is planned, and routine is the key. It is when that organisation slips that I go backwards, and that extends not simply to exercise but into all aspects of my current working life.

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Post it Notes are keeping me sane, helping pull together all the disparate strands of existence. I’ve stuck the most used ones to card, ‘laminated’ over pencil with sticky tape to remind of what happens each day, making sure I keep to the programme. Eventually one hopes I can throw the card away because those messages will become ingrained, but for now they’re a part of a handful of magic feathers. It’s the same principle as getting through six minutes exercise: with the right prompt, things will take less time than you realise. I tried this yesterday, with a bunch of tasks that would normally take an afternoon. I gave myself two hours to complete everything.

Amazingly, it worked: not because I’ve become super efficient overnight either. This project succeeded because I stopped procrastinating and just did the fucking work. Of course there will be days when this doesn’t happen but, for now, mental ability saved the day. Old me, the one who’d eat a snack and then browse Social media and then get sucked into a rabbit hole, is still alive and well, but right now they’re no use in the timescales available. I need this version of Me to survive right now. Once everything is done I can let that part of the consciousness out again.

Until then, let’s just keep working.

Airbag

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Here’s a thing: yesterday evening, I went to the chip shop, as both kids requested a takeaway. I’d already eaten my calorie limit for the day, and sat waiting whilst the smell of frying potato made me salivate. Chips are a major weakness, always have been. This I attribute to one of the earliest memories I possess: the small of frying onions from a burger van, back in the days before that item was a staple on British high streets. Long before McDonalds even arrived in the UK; on the seafront of the town which is now our home, my parents used to drive here and reminisce of their courtship. I came home with the meals, stuck them on plates, and didn’t eat anything at all.

Yesterday was a tough Gym session: lots of HIIT, not many steps, and to make up the shortfall I walked around the block a couple of times. Today, the fatigue in my entire body is more noticeable than it has been for weeks, and I know that if I go throw myself at anything high impact it will make things worse. Today is a day for a walk: to the supermarket to buy high protein items with absolutely no sugar in them at all, and to start working on building muscle mass and provide true, lasting strength. Now it is becoming obvious just how much my body relies on empty carbs to function, I need to go and rethink a lot of my principles from scratch.

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I suck at willpower. It is my absolute biggest failing, by a long way. I also bounce from one state to another quite fast, or at least I did, and I am beginning to grasp that hormones have been to blame for a great deal more than just lower backache and upset stomachs. As I walk away from decades of being a fucking monster for three days a month, often longer, comes the relief of being able to dictate and control exactly how I am, without being at the beck and call of a body that often felt as if it didn’t belong to me at all. In fact, with the introduction of regular exercise and a diet that appears to help and not hinder mental progress, things are most definitely looking up.

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I predict a lot of fish and vegetables over the Summer months, and very little potato or bread, even though I will miss my sandwiches so very much. If 11st 5lbs is achievable by August 1st on this level of input, I can re-introduce the stuff I love as treats without fear. The first part of this process however has to be getting to the point where I know what is and isn’t doable, and right now this plan is the right path to tread.

Time to suck it up and get moving.

Get The Balance Right

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In an hour, I’ll be off to do my first PT session since the operation. It hasn’t been two weeks since Surgery either, which seems strange, because that time feels like it was forever ago. Yesterday at the Gym there was another 12k, some fatigue but more progress than I can remember for a while: press ups are doable with minimal pain, there could have been running but I simply chose not to. All the work before, efforts towards overall fitness have paid their own reward. Now, there are faint graspings that surgery may have done more than simply allow me to eat what I want. Working yesterday, I feel more balanced.

This is difficult to try and explain, but the whole of my body is more centred. This could be due to the umbilical hernia that was separating stomach muscles, or the amount of work this body generally had accommodated with an internal organ being damaged. Now I am fixed and without a major form of stress, everything just became easier. If this were simply a psychological change there would be no point to mentioning all of this, but looking at body in profile this morning, my core is stronger than can be remembered for quite some time.

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There was a weigh in before I was operated on, and as soon as this is written comes the walk down to the Gym to do the same, two weeks on. In the interests of full disclosure, here’s where we were:

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I’m fairly confident weight will be down, but by how much I couldn’t tell you. The bigger issue is how much muscle mass has been lost from about 10 days of no activity, and how that can now be restored without using weight lifting as its core. That’s in the hands of a PT who I think I’d probably trust now with my life. Her ability to cope with the last month has been beyond impressive, and there is no doubt that my rehabilitation will not only be painless but also an education.

In fact, I should stop typing now and get ready to leave.


Fact of the Day

I once presented a fan award to the creator and writer of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, who was very lovely about the whole thing and gave a very decent speech. That was also the same Convention I dressed as Emma Peel from the Avengers… ^^