Habits of highly effective weight loss

So, I gathered up enough courage to go on the scales, and I’m back where I started – booo! To be honest, it’s absolutely of no surprise really – my eating habits have been appalling recently. Too many treats, too big portions, too many portions! I’m actually relieved I haven’t put on any more than that. Seeing as I’d only lost 5 pounds to start with, I’m not too devastated – just realise it’s high time I pulled my socks up. I’ve also had to have a couple of weeks off exercise, because of a small health scare I had soon after the race (nothing to do with ‘fitness’ I hasten to add – running has only helped with that!). Anyway, that’s all settled down now and my doctor’s assured me I’ve nothing to worry about – so phew. Went back to Curves yesterday and I was delighted to discover that my muscles allowed me to do as many repetitions as before on the machines, so that’s great news.

Anyway – I’ve got some specific goals – and one of them is to lose a few pounds before the beginning of September – my youngest starts school then and it’s also Mr N and I’s wedding anniversary – hopefully we can have a night or two away by ourselves. So that’s about 7 weeks away. I’m not going to give myself a fixed amount of weight to lose, otherwise it all ends in tears if I don’t achieve what I want. I’m just going to commit at the moment to one week of careful eating, with 3 visits to Curves, plus at least 3 other forms of exercise – including some running if possible. Let’s get back to basics! I haven’t have a full week of nutritious eating for a while – a really bad addiction to sugary foods has hampered this – so I’ll try going cold turkey on sugar and see what happens.

I’ve also been doing a bit of reading and this article has proved very helpful. It basically pinpoints the results of a survey on a large number of men and women who’ve managed to lose weight and keep it off – and the habits they all had in common. The amount of regular exercise they all did/do was really interesting – about an hour day – wow! And the average calorie intake for the women as they lost weight was about 1,300 – again – wow! These people were all obviously very serious about their commitment to weight loss. But, interestingly, all the participants had another thing in common – they’d all unsuccessfully tried to lose weight in the past. So that’s really encouraging, isn’t it? I find myself without even realising it, thinking at the back of my mind ‘You’ve blown it. It’s too late now. You should never have regained this weight in the first place. What’s the use? etc etc’ Well, reading articles such as this one, plus plowing through plenty of weight-loss blogs has helped enormously to counteract this mentality. As I’ve said in the past – I know I can do this – I’ve just got to get down to it, and stop putting it off for fear of making a mistake – putting it off is in fact the biggest mistake I’m making!

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Thoughts on sport

One of the things I love most about the Race For Life is that my kids come to watch me. Both years they have been so excited – it’s a lovely day out as Mr N, my brother and his family and my parents also come to watch. My boys love the fact that I get a real medal at the end, and it’s such a boost for me as I see them cheering me on as I reach the finish line. 

I’m trying to get not too hung up on the scales – I realise that my body shape has changed significantly since I started to exercise again. And my ever-patient husband keeps reminding me not to worry about the numbers – he just cares that I’ve massively improved my fitness during these last couple of years.  And it’s the same for my kids – they don’t care that I’m technically overweight, I’m always their hero when I do the race!

It’s nice to see things from their perspective sometimes – recently I realised that my commitment to exercise is something that they’ve picked up on. I spoke to my youngest boys’ pre-school teacher the other day and she told me that he tells them proudly when they do PE that ‘mummy does exercise too’. Wow – I’m actually leading by example! Not bad for the girl who was always last to be picked for teams at school. I really hated sport at school – it was always so competitive, and felt more like an exercise in survival of the fittest than anything you’d do for fun. I don’t know how sport is taught in secondary schools these days, but when I was a teenager I wish they’d taken the emphasis away from the whole ‘winning team’ idea. I like running, swimming, cycling, walking and resistance exercises. Not the sort of thing that was on offer at school. I wonder how many kids these days get turned off sport because of the type of activities that are promoted as ‘sporty’ things to do. At the end of the day you’ve got to find what you enjoy or you’ll never keep it up. So hopefully my boys will continue to realise that fitness doesn’t have to mean football, cricket, rugby or whatever – fitness simply comes by doing regular exercise – any kind of exercise.

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Race for Life Report

Phew! I ran the Race for Life today… Here’s a quick Q&A…

 

So did I finish?   Yes.

Did I beat last year’s time (37min)? No.

Was I happy with this year’s time (38min)? Yes

Was it hot?  Yes it bloody was

Did I puke? No

Did I want to puke? A few times

Moving swiftly on…

As promised, here’s a pic of me, pre-warm-up…

I look happy, but I was cacking myself at this point...

I look happy, but I was cacking myself at this point...

Crane shot, provided by Mr N (far right) holding his phone v high. You can see I look a bit nervous here, as I try to juggle my sports drink and water bottle

Crane shot, provided by Mr N (far right) holding his phone v high. You can see I look a bit nervous here, as I try to juggle my sports drink and water bottle in vain...

 

Apparently Mr N took this of the warm-up, but it's not really an action shot, is it?

Apparently Mr N took this of the warm-up, but it's not really an action shot, is it? Look closer as you can spot we're eagerly waving our hands in the air and engaging in other such stretchy movements

 

And they're off...

And they're off...

I’m pretty pleased with my time, for several reasons – firstly, I’d forgotten just how epic the hill at the end was, so I instantly forgave myself when I was forced to walk up that bit again… Plus, until the stinky hill, I actually managed to outpace myself from last year – I reached the 4k marker in 28 mins, whereas last year it had been 30 – so it was definitely the hill that did me in in the end. Also it was extremely hot, even more so than last year. So much so, in fact, that the organisers warned us not to go hell for leather. 

I was so nervous before the start this time – I had one of those ‘what on earth am I doing here?’ moments. The warm-up went very well, though  - well better for me than some – the old lady next to me complained to her companion that she was pretty done in after all that – so didn’t fancy having to do a 5k as well!  As I jogged past the start line I could see my family trying in vain to spot me in the crowd, but I couldn’t grab their attention. (Amusingly, because they couldn’t see me, they told me afterwards that they wondered if I’d backed out after the warm-up! Oh yea of little faith…)

For the first 500m my heart was beating so hard, I was really having to tell myself to calm down. By the time the 1k marker came into view, however, I’d settled into a rythmn, and that’s where my training really paid off. I felt myself go sort of onto auto-pilot – just like last year – and was able to run for 15 minutes before I had a quick walk break. By then I’d reached 2k – exactly the same pace as last year. By this time I’d also watched a lot of people pass me, but my favourite section was between 2 and 4k – here I was able to keep up the pace, and passed a lot of other runners, many of whom had passed me earlier. I got to 3k in 20 minutes and then to 4k in 28 mins. But then, of course, there was the hill…

I wanted to run up it, I really did. My mum had positioned herself at the bottom of the hill to cheer me on – which was a great morale booster. But I felt pretty sick with the heat, so I knew that if I pushed too hard up the hill I’d never make it down. Also at that point, I realised, far too late, that munching on a last-minute Nutrigrain (sickly stuff, but I wanted the energy!) 10 minutes before the start was a big mistake. A mistake I did not wish to share with any unfortunate passers-by, as it appeared to be quite keen to make an unscheduled reappearance. It was a bit soul-destroying to see the seconds speed by on my stop watch, but there it was – by running up that hill I would have thrashed last year’s time – but I just didn’t have the strength or the stomach. It was quite satisfying to pick up the pace again at the top of the hill, however, and yet again overtake many who’d passed me earlier. I managed the final stretch at a comfortable pace and as I passed the finish line I felt a sense of relief and contentment.

I should, of course, be sharing with you my post-race victory shots, but I’ve just been checking them out and they’re pretty awful, not least because I’d chucked half my complimentary bottle of water over my head in order to cool down – not a good look!

So, with the gift of hindsight here are my top tips for running a 5k.

1. Do as the organisers suggest and get there early. Or you may well get stuck in traffic as 2,999 other runners also try and reach the course by car. If  the traffic proves to be at a standstill, do what we did and abandon your car as soon as you can and walk the rest of the way – you’ll get there much quicker.

2. Queue for the portaloos with at least 20 mins to spare – or you’ll miss the start! I time-managed this perfectly so felt super-smug – yes little things please me greatly!

3. Sipping from a sports drink before you start will reduce the amount of water you’ll need during the race – well this worked for me, anyway.

4. Don’t eat any last-minute snacks too close to the start – I wish I’d left that darn Nutrigrain alone – see above…

5. Get your picture taken whilst proudly wearing your medal, before you chuck water all over your head.

6. Just do your best –  whatever your time, the moment you cross the finish line you’ll just feel fantastic!!

 

It’s probably also worth adding that it’s good to enter a charity race if  you can – it feels extra great to know all your hard work is raising money for a good cause. Now I just have to decide which race I’m going to enter next…

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The final run up to the Race For Life

logo-raceForLife

Sorry I haven’t posted much recently – it’s been busy, busy, busy. Weight has stayed the same – but I got yet another compliment from someone at the weekend – so I guess that proves that you can not really lose any weight but still look at a lot better thanks to exercise. I’d dearly like to shift the excess fat around my middle, though – so I think I’ll have to concentrate more on my diet before that’s going to go. But, for now, I’m just concentrating on exercise due to the fact that on Sunday I’m running the Race For Life.

Oh, shit! 

On the plus side, I’ve pretty much completed my 10 week training programme. It’s rather basic compared to many programmes I’ve seen – I still don’t run for more than 3 minutes at a time – but I can now do that 9 times in a row, with a minute between each repetition. This year I’ve definitely improved my stamina, compared to last year, when it felt like I could run faster, but for not as long – probably because I was at least 5 pounds lighter at the time. So – having not shifted that extra weight in time for the race, the best I can do is simply do my best! If I make it round all in one piece I’ll be happy.

 The course is a right bugger – as half of it runs around the perimeter of a big field – which is on a hill. Sigh. The last kilometre involves running up the hill, before running along the top and then down again to the finish line. Last year any race ‘tactics’ went out of the window, as I went full pelt around the whole course from the start, meaning I had to walk up the hill towards the end, and then staggered down the hill again to the finish line – screaming “WATEERRR!!” to my family as I careered past them. (I didn’t realise that I got a free bottle of water when I finished!) It was baking hot – so I’d drunk every last drop from my precious water bottle long before the finish.

Anyway, I’m sort of excited – a bit nervous as I know what’s coming – and a bit worried that I won’t be as fast as last year. However, no matter how slowly I run on the day, I remember the massive endorphin high I got for several hours afterwards last time. I hadn’t felt a sense of achievement like that since I gave birth! 

And also I realise that, no matter how hard I find it – it’s all in a good cause, and I’ve got it very, very easy compared to some of the brave souls running this year. I was humbled to read in our local press about competitors who were actually undergoing chemotherapy at the time they took part last year. Bloody hell – that puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it? Immediate family members of both mine and Mr N’s family have been lost to cancer – so Cancer Research is a cause close to both our hearts.

Wish me luck! I promise I’ll write about the day and post up some pics (finally!) of me – no matter how bad they are! Bye for now…

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Cinnamon explosion…

I wanted to write a longer post today, but I have a splitting headache right now – so will instead leave you with an image of what happened to my porridge and chopped banana this morning when I forgot to use the sprinkle side of the cinnamon container lid, and instead used the ‘yeah, I’d like a lot of cinnamon all in one go please’ side.  Looks messy, especially as in the pic I’d already tried mixing it in, and was disturbed to see the porridge turn brown, but it was actually quite tasty!

Oops!

Oops!

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A tale of two tubs

 

Designed to boldly go where no man has gone before

Designed to boldly go where no cheese has gone before

Have you seen the new Philadelphia advert on the web? The whole thing is devoted to their new tubs! You are even invited to ‘experience the new tub’, which includes a 3D, fully interactive virtual ‘tour’ of the tub – featuring its new, easier to open lid. I kid you not. It’s like they’re talking about the specs of the Starship Enterprise or something! Overall this ad left me rather bewildered. In previous ads, when they’ve described ‘ cool, creamy Philly’ with various serving suggestions, I totally got it – and yes, I started drooling at the thought of a bagel with cream cheese topping. But I can’t get too excited about the actual tubs the stuff comes in. No… definitely not.

 

As for myself, I’m feeling a little less tubby – thanks to quite a successful run yesterday. To clarify, I count any run that doesn’t end up with me feeling like I’m about to have a cardiac arrest a good result. And as a bonus, I managed to dodge the cowshit that was scattered all over the track I often run on. Not covered in shit and body still in one piece – yep, overall that was a good one…

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Time for a talk

Checked the scales again today – I’ve lost 1.5 pounds already, so feeling good. I’m going to make sure I weigh myself in a week’s time to keep an eye on things. I had a good weekend, and am back to eating a lot healthier again. I’m still feeling very motivated and am trying to ‘run with it’ so to speak and do all I can to see some progress again. 

Normally I am a master of self-defeating negative talk, which can often gnaw away at any good intentions I have. I have been recently giving myself  a really good talking to, and trying to turn any negative thoughts into positives.

For example,

  • “I’ve been on so many diets now, and have tried losing weight so many times, but I’ve just got bigger and bigger. I’m just destined to put on more weight each year.”  Actually – whenever I’ve really pulled my finger out, I have lost weight.  And I have also managed to maintain weight losses for a good while. I only put weight back on when I return to my old ways. The times I’ve kept it off have been when I’ve exercised and eaten healthily and said no to too many treats. FACT.
  • “Six 30-minute sessions of exercise a week just isn’t nearly enough – I should be doing twice that to see results.”  Well, actually, what I’m doing is a darn sight better than no exercise at all – which is what I was doing before. If I’m still worried, I should simply add a short walk each day to my schedule.
  • “I only have to look at a cake to put on a couple of pounds.” Utter crap. When I was at my slimmest and healthiest I could indulge in treats now and then and the weight would stay off. Exercise had a lot to do with this, I suspect. Plus the fact that my day-to-day diet was very healthy – so I could afford to have the odd slice of cake without any unpleasant consequences…
  • “What’s the point? Every time we have a meal with friends and family, which is practically every weekend, I have to eat what’s on offer.” Huh. I can either be extra strict during the week so I can indulge without any worries or simply take a smaller portion – it’s not rocket science!

Yep. I’m no longer in the mood for excuses – so my negative side better watch out!!

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