So in January I was suddenly inspired to download the Couch to 5k app. I had started running on the treadmill last autumn and managed to keep it up instead of giving up after a few weeks. My stamina and cardio fitness have been issues for me since having to give up dance but maintaining progress has been difficult. Running is just something I never saw an appeal in. Which is odd, as I ran a lot, and long distances, up hill, cross country, as a teenager.
So anyways, back to my story, in January I downloaded the app, I decided that my first run would be on the following Tuesday. Tuesday came around and wouldn’t you believe it, so did a storm. I was undeterred and went for a run, wearing a bright yellow hoodie and an owl beanie hat to try and keep warm. To say I got wet would be an understatement. I was drenched. But what was important is that I didn’t use the weather as an excuse. Really after that introduction, it could only get better.
Well if i am honest, it didn’t really, not where the weather is concerned, it was pretty wet and windy for 90% of my runs, and I quickly learnt that it doesn’t matter how much lighting, bright colours, hi vis or reflective items you go out in… cyclists will always act like they can’t, or hadn’t see you and try and push you off the path.
As I progressed, I was finding my initial path ( the same I take to the gym at the weekend) was not long enough, so I sat down and had a look at possibilities. I am lucky, I have a river, canal and common land in what I refer to as my back garden. It means that I don’t spend a lot of time running on the road. I spend enough time as a pedestrian that running on roads has absolutely no appeal to me.
I also downloaded Strava to help me track my workouts – I wanted to see what my pace was, have an accurate way of analysing and recording my runs. And this does also seem to have helped motivate. A lot of the time, you need to figure out what works for you, what makes you tick. I found the map on this even easier to use and found a nice reservoir that I could run around… well not around. Every run I pushed myself to run a little further, and I was able to judge how far I was and when to turn around. But between the high winds which felt that I was going to be pushed into a lake or a river, and cyclists pushing me off the path (not as often as my original route) regularly, it was becoming frustrating.
Well, I have found a third route which I have done for the last 2 weeks and honestly, it is like an awakening. As its alongside a canal, so is pretty straight, and there isn’t much variation on the incline. Running around the lake, the path was so bad that I was worried about my knee or tripping and twisting my ankle. The final straw was having to walk back after my knee gave in which I am fairly sure has a lot to do with the appalling state of the path. But the path I am using now is almost bouncy and is a pleasure to run along.
Last night was my final run, I have officially completed the Couch to 5K but you know what really got me, I didn’t hit 5k! How? Well I was going with the timings and now the distance so tomorrow will be my first solo run and I am aiming to hit 5k.
So there are a couple of things that I have learnt – I do not yet have the ability to run without slowing down – I slow down for a few steps before setting off. This is mostly to catch my breath. I am not annoyed with myself, I try and go further and further between breaks and know I will get there, I am not training for anything so there is no pressure. I am a social runner – I take bread out to feed the local birds, ducks and swans.
I have learnt that some days will be better than others, and it is important to recognise when you have had a bad run. It is no good ignoring it, or glossing over it. If it was shit, it was shit. You know you can do better next time. I had a few bad runs but yesterday, my final run of the program? I smashed it! I ran further, faster and longer and there is no real reason for it. But go with the flow, don’t force it, don’t fight it. What is important, is that you tried.
What I can say, is that, outside having a pair of running trainers, and wearing high vis, making sure you are warm, the one thing that is REALLY important when running is a decent sound track! It helps you pace, even if its subconscious. Oh and leggings with a pocket 😉
I guess this should be a whole, New Year, New me post.
It isn’t, it is reflective and a little bit of an apology.
When I started the series, I was fully immersed and training hard. Since then, a bunch of stuff has happened and to a degree I have probably mentioned it in previous posts. And if you follow me on SM you will already know.
A lot of it will be the same excuses I have trotted out but it comes down to, Life. Life happened. Things changed, I changed. But let us just quickly run down what has been going on before i tackle a few things.
18 months ago, I broke my wrist. At this point my training was, I felt, going really well so it really knocked me for six.
In that same period, I changed job 3 times, with 3 very different working hours and schedules. Things have thankfully settled down.
I put on A LOT OF WEIGHT
I got a PT (the last 2 are not mutually exclusive)
So lets unpack. When I broke my wrist, my consultant suggested it was probably safer for me to continue at the gym. Which I did. It was okay. But until you have an injury that limits you like this, its really hard to understand how limiting it is. This isn’t just the adjustment while you are recovering. It is how long the recovery actually lasts. I mean. I would say, even now because of the tendon injury and referred pain… I am still not 100%.
Changing jobs – so while I was at the hairdressers, I was working part time and this meant I had a greater deal of flexibility and could spend more time at the gym without worrying about time. It was great. When I changed to, ironically, working at the gym, I was working longer weeks and hours, and walking more. Now walking is something I will come back to. But one thing I struggled with, is getting to the gym. Because I was on a mid shift, I struggled to get to the gym on either side of my shift and when I was on a day off, I avoided the gym. So that didn’t help. I have since started another job which involves a lot of sitting, including my commute. Which leads me to my next point…
My current job involves little in the way of activity. With all my employment while living in Northampton, I have walked a lot, walking through town to get to the bus stop, popping into town during lunch breaks, while at the gym I spent a large chunk of my way canvassing, and working to and from work. So I have now got a job that sees me spend a great deal of time on the bus and at my desk. So yeah… not ideal.
My final point, arguably the most important, is that when i left the gym, I stayed as a member, and got roped into a PT session … and honestly I am so happy that I did. I had wanted to get a PT for a long while but seriously the money was a big issue but also finding someone who I felt I could work with.
Now, that is obviously more than a year, but it all is linked in. I put on a lot of weight when I changed jobs, not so much not going to the gym, because I was spending a lot of time on my feet, but changing to an office based job again. And what is worse, I didn’t realise. It sounds silly, I know. How did I not realise I had put on so much weight. I knew I was over weight, again something i had discussed before, and again I could pinpoint why the weight had crept on. But this was not slow, over a few years, lets not kid ourselves. I got lazy with what I was eating, and I wasn’t doing enough exercise to combat my lifestyle changes.
I started seeing my PT just over a year ago, and I would argue with him about the fact eating plans don’t work for me, that I know how many calories are in the things I am eating (to an extent this is true) and that I was fine. I can’t exactly remember what it was that pushed me. But I took scales into work for a coworker and jumped on myself. And nearly died. I was mortified at the weight. over 2 stone heavier than I expected. So I got chatting to a friend who also happens to work in the fitness industry and she gave me some pointers. The biggest was downloading MFP (and this isn’t an endorsement, just my own experience) and I then started logging my meals. I got a smart watch for Christmas last year (I spend a lot of time debating Fitbit or smartwatch but ultimately decided that this was better for me personally) and it tracks heart points (rate – time spent with an elevated heart rate… or cardio) and time spent walking. The recommendation is 60 mins activity per day and 10 heart points per day. Easy you would think. Right? Well on a non gym day, I would struggle to manage 45 mins / 8 HP …. so yeah, no surprise why I was putting on weight. So anyway, in May last year, that is when I changed up my fitness journey. I started tracking meals, I worked out 3/4 times a week. I averaged 1lb loss per week. Some weeks I maintained. But it was actually, was easier to do than I ever expected. It was a lot of gradual adjustments.
So, why did I go down the calorie deficit route, and not say, Slimming World or Weight Watchers. I have no personal experience of either. I have a lot of friends who have used them to lose weight. And for those who stick with it, the results and fast, and they are amazing. No honestly, they really are fantastic. However, once you stop following the program, the weight comes back and it comes back quickly. So I wanted rather, to make sustainable changes that worked for me. Do I fancy a donut today? (silly question) but then that means, I have to work a little harder. As long as I can stick in a deficit, or as close to… then it works. Of course I am not perfect, I mean I eat donuts. I drink. I enjoy myself. Now, the whole deficit thing, I am not being extreme, I am down to roughly 1400 per day. I won’t go below that. Because I still need to be able to function.
How, one thing that I have found, is that your body is not predictable, some days I weigh myself and i have lost 3 lbs. Some days I have maintained, some days I have…. put weight on. It is hard, not going to lie. When you think you have tracked well and worked hard.. and then your body appears to betray you. Its one thing that I have found particularly hard. When people say, hey its normal to fluctuate, or its hormones… its just not helpful? It feels like an excuse and honestly that is the last time i need to hear. Did I forget something, did I not work out enough. After I had been doing well on the weight loss, I started to lose traction again and I gave myself a kick. I decided to take the long way how. Now … this is a great idea. In theory. Its along a canal and in the summer, I am sure it is a perfectly nice way of getting some fresh air. I don’t suggest it in the winter as walking home in the dark is not fun. So i reset, and decided to go for a walk at lunch. I had avoided this previously because I like to have the time to decompress, but I was out of ideas. It does seem to have worked though.
Now when I say I have run out of ideas, and this is an explanation… I usually get home at at around 18:00 having left the house before 7am. This generally means that I am really, really hungry. So if I have not gone to the gym that evening, the last thing I want to do is throw some food down my fact, let it settle and then go back out. What I am trying to say, is that it is all about being smart with your time. On a typical week, I have bellydance on a wednesday, gym friday night, PT saturday morning, gym & swim sunday. This means that I have a couple of nights off, and a day to play with. Sure, I could go for a run… or spend more time at the gym, work out at home. But if you are going to start a fitness journey, you try and see what works for you, and be realistic. This works for me.
Now, I have mentioned him a few times but lets have a look at the PT issue – like i said, I had wanted to get a PT for a while, I have had PT’s previously so I knew roughly what to expect. I guess for me, part of the issue with working at the gym is that I got to know them and how they trained. When I got roped into a session with Zack I didn’t know what to expect, which I think was an absolute plus. Now to cast back to my broken wrist. When I said recovery was a bitch, this was 6/8 months after the break and Zack had an uphill struggle with me and my inability to really do much with my right hand. But another way of looking at it, is that he also helped me strengthen my wrist so I could push more.
I am not going to lie, Zack had had an uphill struggle with me, I am argumentative, lazy, awkward, I like to chat shit. I also hate not being able to do something and half our sessions have been bargaining and debating. I am sure he has spent many a session thinking about throwing the towel in with me as a lost cause. He spent a got chunk of our sessions, undoing all the bad habits i had picked up or been taught. It was harder in a way because I was not new to the gym so I had things ingrained and that takes time to undo. One thing that I really wanted to get on with, is weigh training. That is one big reason that I knew i needed to have a PT for, as well as getting my wrist back in shape! So over the last year, I have made a lot of progress and am a lot more confident than I was this time last year. One thing that did also change… I had an epiphany … similar to the one relating to my stepping on a scale… I jumped on the treadmill. Now most of you will know that ‘not even my tights run’ but I just decided one day that… I felt like having a run. So I did. It hasn’t been easy, what with the whole ‘cardio is evil’ thing I have maintained for a number of years. I have also really made progress overall with my workouts over the last couple of months and actually feel like I have been getting there rather than treading water.
There hasn’t been a point in the last year that I didn’t want to go to the gym, that I felt I should give up. There have been several points where I was frustrated and annoyed, with myself mostly. And I think that a lot of that stems to where I was before i was injured. That I think is what is all boils down to. Knowing where I was and where I let myself get to.
As it stands, yesterday I hit my goal weight for 2019, in that I lost 2 stone. I have 2 stone to lose and i have given myself the deadline of August – because this is the same length of time it took for the first 2 stone to be shed. I have given myself an arbitrary number to reach, it is based on my ideal weight for my height. So yes, it may need adjusting but lets cross that bridge if and when I reach it.
So anyways, that has been my recent fitness journey – thank you for reading! I hope that you reach your goals for the next 12 months, stay healthy and smash some personal bests!
So, it has been a while since I last posted, and I do have a bunch of posts that I should publish. However I have a review that deserves to see the light of day within the month so here we go!
As you may be aware, or if you have a look through my previous posts… I am not the best at reviewing products, However, after much soul searching (bargaining with my bank account) I finally took the leap and bought a new sports bra from Valkyrie Fitness . I had it on good authority that they would be a good fit. Now I have tried bras from all over, Nike, Reebok, Wild Bangarang, Primark, Sainsburys, in the hope that one of them would work. I end up either spending over £50 for a sports bra that binds me so tight I can’t breath, or around £25 for one that barely covers my breasts. In all fairness to Primark, they are value for money, but are good only as a cover for a standard bra.
So.. let us get down to it. I have 34FF breasts, because of this, it is generally impossible for me to find sports tops that cover let alone off support. So you can understand the trepidation as I waited for it to arrive. Well, I took myself off to the gym, figuring the best ay to give it a go would be during an actual session. And I tried it solo which is not something I would normally risk.
I won’t lie, there was a moment were I thought that it just wouldn’t fit. Where I just wouldn’t get both breasts in. Sorry to be quite so blunt. But it is what it is. Well after a brief struggle, I managed to get into the bra, adjusted and off to start my work out.
Edit – I have now been using the sports bra for over a month, and in fact took the plunge and bought a second sports bra which arrived on Monday. I can honestly say that I have not found a more comfortable bra and given that I am not … how do you say, a standard fit? I am impressed that it firstly, fits, and secondly, works.
Not going to lie, it is not made for cardio, I won’t be wearing it to a zumba class in the near future. But honestly for a standard workout, including warm up, weights, yoga, etc it is … at the risk of sounding like Flanders, like wearing nothing at all. Which is also, as those ‘blessed’ with larger breasts, will find a rather strange feeling.
Now if you are interested in buying one for yourself, head over to Valkyrie, either using the link above or on Instagram by clicking : HERE you are best going with your usual dress size, the material is stretchy but secure. And for those with a more endowed chest, the trick to getting it on quickly and simply, is pulling the back down before the front 🙂
Also have a bonus picture of me in a Valkyrie baseball cap – when you have short hair…. you can look rather androgynous in the wrong gear…. whoops 🙂 That said, I do love it and had a bunch of compliments so it is now in my bag going forward!
So after an extended break from Combat Training, I went back last week (8th Jan 2017) and I can be totally honest…. I was terrified. I had been pushing myself at the gym but am finding it difficult without a P.T or gym buddy. However, recently I have found that I wanted to go to the gym. I have been honest in that I enjoy working out but often when you work long hours, over several different projects – the need or desire to just have down time can be a difficult call to ignore.
But I digress – Combat training. I had tried to up my cardio because I had felt after the last session that this was letting me down. More so than the strength. My stamina, and endurance was going to hobble my ability to continue. So I made a real effort to work harder and faster. And hoped it would make a real difference.
Well… I should not have been surprised when I found this was just not the case at the first session of 2017. You see, at the Combat Academy, they sessions are never alike. There is never a real indication before the day of what will happen, or who in fact will be there. I have managed to avoid classic self defence classes prior to this. I had had some martial arts training (see Fighting Fit part 4 ) and done enough boxing to be relatively confident that a self defence class would hold no interest. The stereotypes around them do nothing to help my feelings toward them.
So of course, there I was thinking that it would be lots of cardio, jumping up from the floor, running, jumping, changes of position. No. Well. Now really i should have seen this coming. In my last session it was made very clear (more so than in previous sessions) that old habits would be broken down, and I would become .. I want to launch into some speil about fighting machines which says as much as the type of movie I watch as anything else. But what we are looking for is breakthroughs and confidence. Where I will laugh or giggle to deflect from my short comings, real or imagined – this needs to stop as it hinders training and pushes back the breakthrough.
Last week, well last week we went back to basics, we concentrated on grapples, on distance and what to do either to bridge the distance and to gain space. We also were reminded of Mohammed Ali – you know… float like a butterfly? Lots of dips, weaves and avoiding. We also worked on kicks or knees. What did I learn? First to change the knee and placement because all that happens is that you end up with a massive cumulative bruise on your knee. And that I needed to work on back strengthening exercises. Ironically i had started doing yoga as part of my workouts so this was a simple fit. Once I could actually move again.
Something that again was addressed was that killer instinct. I guess I am wording it wrong, I don’t mean the will or want to kill or end a life. But the ability to engage in the moment and put aside any feelings of self consciousness, or girliness, embarrassment. That worrying about what you look like, sound like, what others think… it is not something that should be on or in your mind at that moment. The point is that in combat training it is a safe space and place in which to practise real life scenarios. And if you can’t get into the correct mindset there and then… what is the possibility that you will be mentally prepared to do so if you happen to find yourself in such a situation.
That is as simple as it gets, when I am being shouted at, pressure tested, when I am getting punched on the nose because I dropped my block. It isn’t because I am being belittled, or berated, or payback. It simple is to try and make sure that in a situation where it might we be do or die, I don’t black out, breakdown or freeze.
So I really do encourage your all to hunt out your local Combar Academy, and get down there to try it out. It isn’t a case of people being mean to you or trying to change you fundamentally. It is teaching real life skills in order to protect you.
I have been trying to write this blog post for the longest time but I have struggled with the right way to approach it. And I guess this close to the New Year is a good time to do it!
As you may, or may not be aware, I have separate I.G account which initially started off as my personal account (away from my makeup posts) and have somewhat merged into a fitness diary of sorts.
And my news feed had also become much more fitness orientated. But I don’t feel bad about my weight or body shape, fitness level when looking at my feed. Instead it inspires me. I daily see people pushing themselves, sharing their tips, tricks and fitness journey’s and see the physical rewards.
When you post photos of your own workouts, pre/during/post and garner positive comments which makes you feel great. But not only this, people tell you that you are inspiring them?
Well this encourages you to continue posting on IG, because you are being rewarded with positivity and feel that you are also helping others. This in turn means that to get things to post, fresh photos, you need to get back into the gym. And that helps you move along on your fitness journey.
So when people comment on my IG news feed (which they do) or ask about the photos I upload… it is about accountability. As it is for many of us. It is a way of documenting our journey as once the photo is uploaded, it is date stamped. You can see where you are and where you were. And you also have a reason to keep posting. Because people are waiting to see what you are going to do, wear, they are waiting for your next post so they can continue a conversation. They are waiting for an inspiration. It can act as a motivator.
So yes, of course the entire episode is self centered, self promoting, it is vain. I won’t argue with you about it. But I would counter argue that it is great, because it is a way of encouraging people to get out and work out and that can only be a good thing (although like all things, only when done in moderation) and it is a great resource, you can find like-minded people, you have access to lots of different people, companies, be it meal ideas, clothing, fitness tips.
But at the end of the day, it is about accountability, to yourself. It doesn’t matter if someone you follow on IG who lives half way accross the world notices that you haven’t posted for a few days. It doesn’t matter if you are not eating the healthy meals you ‘liked’ when they appeared on your news feed, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t buy any of the cool workout gear that you see in every other photo when scrolling down your feed.
Because at the end of the day, fitness, like anything, is personal. You need to do things for yourself. Not for likes, not for publicity, not for any other reason that I could list. But if you want to use IG as a tool in your fitness journey, as a journal of sorts, it comes with a bunch of benefits!