The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Days 373 to 380 – Fitness one, weight nil. 24 February 2009

I’m exercising like a demon.  I’m finding it easier to get out of bed in the morning and am managing to stick to my rather punishing schedule of four cardio sessions a week, which is great.  I don’t find myself thinking ‘oh I can’t be arsed today’, I find myself thinking ‘if I don’t do it today then I’ll just have to do it tomorrow’, which is quite a significant mind shift from my old, lazy self.

And it’s paying off.  I’m conscious that, whatever type of exercise or fitness challenge I set myself, it’s getting easier all the time.  I’m a million miles away from ‘super fit’, but I’m not sure I’d still class myself as ‘unfit’.  That’s what keeps me going on the treadmill in the morning.  Talking of which, I’m trying to mix it up between outdoor running and indoor running.  At the beginning I was super keen to reject the gym in favour of the great outdoors, but there are definite benefits to combining the two.  Not only is it a bit more gentle on my joints (especially as a relative novice) but I can vary my speed and incline at will … it’s all very well being able to plod along a flat pavement, but I need to start tackling those hills.

On the diet front, last week wasn’t so great.  I knew that long, catered meetings would play havoc with my good intentions.  It was partly because the food on offer wasn’t particularly healthy, and partly because I simply lacked the willpower to avoid some of the naughty things available.  I’m not going to make excuses … I buggered up.

But … I’ve picked myself up!  I ate so healthily yesterday that I deserve a halo, frankly, and I intend to do the same all week.  I can’t start throwing in the towel because of one week’s setback.

I also bit the bullet on Sunday and applied for the New York marathon.  I find out in May whether or not I’ve been successful.  So keep your fingers crossed for me … 🙂


Days 367 to 372 – Routine, schmoutine 16 February 2009

Well, the last few days have been a case of one step forward and two steps back … this is becoming alarmingly typical for me, it seems.  It turns out that I did actually injure my left leg in the spin class on Monday, and the fact that I went ahead with my run on Wednesday morning really didn’t help.  I’m having to learn the difference between sore muscles and injured ones, and last week I learned the hard way.  I spent the end of the week limping around and giving off a pungent odour of deep heat rub as I tried to get my leg back to normal.  Mission accomplished, however.  It meant I was able to go for a run on Sunday morning around the Common, although I had to limit it to 3.5km as I was pushed for time and nervous about my poor old pins.

Despite the hobbling, I was relatively successful with my training last week.  I managed 45 mins spin on Monday, 45 mins yoga on Tuesday, a 4 mile / 6.5 km treadmill run on Wednesday, weight training with my trainer on Friday and a short run on Sunday.  I was very pleased with that.  Oh, and add an hour mucking about on the Wii Fit on Saturday (yes, that is how we spent a large chunk of Valentine’s day!).  This spurred me on to repeat the same this week but, irritatingly, it looks like life is going to get in the way.  I have to spend two days of this week in all day meetings out of town (proper 8am to 6pm jobs) which is going to make fitting everything in very difficult.  It’s frustrating that my attempts at making a firm routine can get disrupted so easily … that, unfortunately, is one of the ‘perks’ of my job.

The diet went reasonably well too, although it fell apart over the weekend (although I’m theoretically allowed two days off).  The combination of my Mum’s birthday dinner, Valentine’s Day and having guests round on Sunday meant that I consumed considerably more naughty food than I should have done.  So I’m going to have to try and be extra strict this week … and going to catered meetings is going to make that tricky.  Funnily enough it was easier when I was doing lighter life.  I didn’t have to navigate the minefield of whatever food was on offer, I simply had to eat my packs and be done with it.  The excuse of a ‘special diet’ meant that nobody batted an eyelid, whereas turning up with your own food in a bag could be construed as weird and/or rude.  Maybe I just need to bite the bullet and do that.

I’m still struggling to eat as soon as I get up.  Even though I’m only eating a tiny bowl of muesli, I literally find myself forcing it into my mouth.  It’s amazing how you can get really turned off a food that you previously didn’t really care about either way 🙂

I’m going back to the spin class tonight.  I’m not sure if we’ll have the same instructor, but I’m hoping it’s someone else.  When I discussed the class with my trainer, there was a lot of head shaking and eye rolling.  Apparently, cycling with one leg at a time, cycling with zero resistance on the bike or doing squats while pedalling are absolute no-nos, and we were told to do the first two.  I know that people’s opinions on what is or isn’t good training will differ, but it makes me a bit nervous to think that the instructor might not know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.  I’ll see what happens tonight and then make a decision about the class.

And then I have to go home and eat a healthy dinner of smoked fish and no carbs while the Boy merrily tucks into the roast leftovers from the weekend.  Boo!


Day 366 – High Speeds And Good Vibes 10 February 2009

Well, I survived last night’s class.  I arrived early and opted for a bike in the back row … mainly because I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone being given a close-up view of my lycra-clad backside as I struggled and sweated away.  I then spent ten minutes trying to adjust the damn thing so that my knees weren’t hitting me in the chin with every pedal and my hands could actually reach the handlebars.  My trainer has been banging on about the importance of getting your bike in the right position … sadly he’s never got as far as showing me exactly what that position is (a big thank-you to the patient woman next to me for helping out).  Having got comfortable (well, as comfortable as it’s possible to be on a concrete saddle that’s the width of a ruler) I was ready to go.  Unfortunately, the world’s tallest man had opted for the bike directly between me and the class trainer, so I couldn’t see her at all.  I decided I’d be fine if I just concentrated on what she was saying.  Now I’m sure she did a splendid job of instructing us, but if you can imagine trying to listen to a diminutive woman with a heavy Eastern European accent yelling over the top of ear-splitting dance music then you’ll get some idea of what the experience was like.

But I got into it.  I managed to deciper ‘sprint!’, ‘rest!’ and ‘turn it up 10!’ from whatever else she said, which was helpful.  (By the way, if anyone can explain to me how an unmarked resistance dial is turned up or down in units of ten, I’d be very grateful).  I didn’t have a heart attack, I didn’t have to stop pedalling, and I didn’t embarrass myself … although my left foot developed a life of its own and fell out of the pedal clasp twice, which was alarmingly painful as my leg crashed down towards the floor.  Oh happy days.

Feeling extremely virtuous I went home and cooked a carb-free stew of lean beef, beetroot, cabbage and courgettes … and bloody good it was too.  That said, I was really quite hungry again by the time I went to bed and can only put that down to the lack of carbs.  I’m hoping that I get used to that in time … even on lighter life I used to have my food bar in the evening.

This morning I was up at some ridiculous hour and forcing myself to eat muesli.  That’s another thing I need to get used to as I don’t normally have breakfast for a good two hours after getting up.  Immediate eating is a must, apparently, if I’m to make friends with my ever-sluggish metabolism.  I then took myself off to a yoga class on the way to work.  Now, without offending anyone, I have a natural antipathy towards yoga.  It’s all a bit worthy for me (and I have vivid memories of having to leave a class early in hysterics many years ago thanks to a particularly flatulent member of the class).

But this morning was great!  I really enjoyed myself, despite being hopeless at most of the exercises.  It became abundantly clear to me exactly why I need to do this.  My stability and balance is so poor that I can’t even balance on my left leg … how pathetic is that?  Now I know why my trainer rolls his eyes and mutters about yoga when I lift a weight and topple over.  So I’m going to try and stick with this class.  Apart from anything else, it’s a great way to start the day (believe it or not).

I’m due a 4 mile/6.5 km run tomorrow and I’m actually quite looking forward to it.  My only slight worry is that my poor old left leg might give up on me as my spinning clumsiness means I’m sure I’ve pulled something.  Here’s hoping I’ve not been a victim of my own enthusiasm, eh.


Days 354 to 365 – Happy Anniversary! 9 February 2009

What a cheerful little soul I was last time!  Dear me … I must remember not to blog late at night after a glass of wine or two.  I clearly get terribly, er,  philosophical 🙂  Actually, the long and the short of it was that I was doing too much.  I was setting expectations of myself that weren’t achievable, was therefore feeling a sense of failure, and getting royally pissed off with myself as a result.  I’ve acknowledged that now, and I’m trying to be disciplined without being unrealistic.

So it was a year ago tomorrow that I began the process of turning my back on my old self.  In a bizarre twist of coincidence (and I swear I didn’t plan this) today is the day that I’m beginning my new food regime, as recommended by my fabulous (and ever patient) personal trainer.  It’s odd to be in a situation where I’m dieting again, but I’m trying not to see it that way.  I’m trying to see it as the second phase in my development … phase one was from fat to thin(ner) and phase two is from unfit to fit.  If I’m going to place hefty physical demands on myself, then I need to feed my body the right things.

My new regime is based on eating little and often (6 small meals a day) and getting my carb intake early in the day rather than late.  All perfectly sensible.  So my food intake today looks something like this, all washed down with about two and a half litres of water:

7am (much, much earlier than normal!): a small bowl of muesli and skimmed milk.

9.30am: a handful of brazil nuts and small apple.

12pm (again, very early for lunch): a grilled chicken breast with brown rice and salad.

2.30pm: more nuts.

5pm: half a small tub of low fat cottage cheese on two Ryvitas.

8pm: lean meat with either salad or steamed vegetables (but no carbs allowed).

Exciting, huh?  The more astute among you will have noticed the absence of chocolate, biscuits, cake or booze … more’s the pity.  The intention is that I will eat according to this plan for at least 5 days out of 7 (obviously changing the types of meat etc.).  Frankly, given that I spent half of last year subsisting on soups and shakes, I know that I can do this.  And, as I’ve said before, having a regime really helps me.  I’ve proved over and over again that I have no discipline when left to my own devices.  I’m clearly better than I was, but I’m not ‘fixed’.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

In terms of exercise, I’m back on track.  I know now that the reason I was beginning to ‘fail’ with the running was because I was pushing myself too hard and too fast.  I’m now happily getting into the regime of one short run (4 miles/6.5km) and one longer run (over 5 miles/8km) per week, along with one additional non-running cardio session on my own and one weight-training session with my trainer.  On top of that I’ve been strongly recommended to add yoga and/or pilates … if I don’t run out of hours in the day I’m going to try that too.  I’m trying to enjoy the novelty of this routine so much that it becomes a habit.  We’ll see.

To that end, I’m off to a spin class this evening.  I’m absurdly nervous, to be honest … I’m not good in group exercise situations, and I have a sneaking suspicion that everyone else will be athletically brilliant whereas I’ll make an idiot of myself.  I’m going to get there super early so I can bag a bike at the very back of the class.  Perhaps the one nearest the door … 🙂