Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Back at the beginning on a different board game

So here I am again and I don't mean on the blog. Oh yes, I suppose I am here again, but I mean this place or at least this me. The sense of deja-vu is slapping me over the head each day. 'Here' is where I've always been. Actually, I spent most of my life 'here'. My perspective has just changed a little, although evidently not enough.

Let me explain. No, in my absence I did not undo all the work I've put in during the year. I continued and I progressed. As the hint of spring faded from the air, I took every opportunity to wear my favourite pants. Oh yes, because now I fit into them even sitting down. The last time that happened was almost 5 years ago.

As I approached the marvelous possibility of wearing them again I was totally thrilled with the way I looked. Hey, at the start of the year I would have done anything to be getting down to this size. Yet, as soon as I did, all I could see was the few extra kilo's that are still hanging around. That's exactly the same feeling I had when I returned home 5 years ago. I knew I'd done a great job then of having slimmed down, but all I could see was that I could stand to lose a bit more.

Actually that's how I've felt since I can remember. Except in my teenage years, before I gained any weight I was convinced I was huge. That's where the perspective comes in - in retrospect, I was never huge there were just those couple of extra kilo's that needed to go.

And those couple of extra kilo's are what's haunting me today, just like they have for the last 15 odd years. So I suppose that leaves me with a choice - progress or accept. One thing I know is I don't want to be 'here' any more.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm not really here

Please let it snow. Please let it snow. Please let it snow. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Get down and give me 50

I think I'm going to rename this blog the "Muscle Discovery Blog". That's if the last few posts are anything to go by. The only problem of course is that in a few weeks I will probably fall head over heels for something new. My attention span is like that.

Now about my favourite topic; muscles. A few weeks back when I did my assessment at the gym I had to write down some goals. Three to be precise because the form only had enough space for that many. I meant to post them as motivation, but clearly I was more interested in discussing other things at the time, so here they are.

1. Get down to a ridiculously low body fat percentage. It seemed achievable until I found out my current percentage, then it became ridiculous. Anyhoo...
2. Run 5K in under 25 minutes. Personal best...umm the only time I timed it...was 31.5 minutes. But you know running is soooo last month. Which brings me to;
3. Muscles - be able to do one proper, real, not-sissy-on-my-knees push-up and same for pull ups. I didn't have high standards which is why I would been utterly thrilled with one.

I've tried again and again, just to see if maybe by some miracle I could manage either. With push ups I could get down, but up was not so good. And pull-ups? They are just about hanging on the bar right?

Until today. Yes, she formerly with no upper body strength can do a full push-up! So take that trainer who said I couldn't do it without the gym. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go feed my muscles and gently rub 'em and tell them how much I love 'em :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Digging out the dirt

I counted wrong, or maybe it was wishful thinking but there were 8 holes to dig. They are the footings for our brand new deck which should be finished in time for summer. Hooray for cocktails and barbeque's and summer. Shortly after reaching depth, they were filled with concrete and stirrups and it's funny just how much faster a hole is to fill than to dig.

Now I could wax lyrical about how much I love exercise and strength training - wow was that a back flip!? - but suffice to say that I have found the reason why I train. And it has nothing to do with looking hot. It's all about being able to do stuff - fun stuff like kayaking or slightly less fun stuff being Bob the Builder's apprentice for the weekend.

In any case I love the feeling of raw power and of being useful and having the energy to keep going all day alongside my husband.

Quit with the moaning
The weather gods clearly thought it would be a wicked good idea to give us summer in the middle of winter. Apparently they've been listening to me moan from my frozen like state for long enough. So the weekend was unseasonably hot at over 30 degrees C. That's like a million degrees Fahrenheit. I kid.

Hot days working in the sun just beg for a bad attitude to come out. Did it? Nope. We watched "Sunday Too Far Away" a movie from the golden era of Australian cinema about the life of sheep shearers. In comparison what I was doing by digging a few holes seemed minor as opposed to the back breaking labour of shearing? Nothing at all. So I decided that not a peep would escape from my mouth about heat, sweat or tiredness. The only thing to be heard from me was some off key singing.

And hats off to a good attitude. I so thoroughly accepted the fact that I would be exhausted by the end of Sunday that I ended up feeling no where near that bad. So instead of driving we walked to my mom's for dinner. And then I wouldn't shut up the whole time. Attention seeking? Moi?

Good attitudes are wicked cool.
Whining is draining.
It's been two days since I worked my muscles. Guess what that means!?!

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm crazy about muscle

The warm weather is persisting to my delight. There is nothing I like better than the feel of spring in the air, which would be when it's warm enough to stand in the shade wearing a breezy top and still be warm. So the definition of spring is when the mercury is at 28 degrees.

This means that all around the country writers must be furiously typing away at their keyboards with the one article title that screams summer is just around the corner - "Get a bikini ready body." Well whatever.

They always say that you should dress to flaunt your best assets. And with a couple of singlet wearing days already behind me, I figure that this year's swimsuit will have to be arm/shoulder/bicep highlighting. Cover everything else up, but show off those arms! It's actually sun smart too.

Yup, I'm smitten. The one who just a few months ago whined bitterly about how boring strength training was is now constantly flexing 'em, you know just to make sure they're still there. In fact, this week I've kept having to slowly back away from the dumbbells while rationally reasoning with myself. Less is step backwards...less is more...another step towards the door.

So my arms are aching from yesterday and yet I dream of tomorrow. No, I will not be grabbing the dumbbells at dawn - yeah, like I'd get up at dawn! Nope tomorrow I get to dig 6 large holes and if that won't make my biceps bulge, I don't know what will. Bring on summer. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Either food or coherent thoughts

These last few days I haven't been able to string together more than a sentence. Usually at this point my brain screams 'ok, that's 14 words, now give me food!' And so begins the down part of weight loss.

Other than to say that the body adjusts very, very quickly to things, I won't go further for fear of sounding silly and spreading misinformation.

It's like this; two weeks ago I started eating more on the recommendation of the trainer at the gym. Embarrassingly, for fear of eating too much I started logging kilojoules. Not only did I feel full - very full some meals - my pants felt looser, like almost wearable except for the sitting down part.

Then we were away and on the pretext of needing to eat more, I heartily dug into the wine, cheese and scones. Taking note of the fact that after those 5 days my pants still felt loose I continued to eat happily.

And then this week, I decided to do something stupid. I figured if the 28 degree days are anything to go by, then I won't have much hope of wearing my beloved pants at all this winter.

So knuckling down and getting serious I went back to eating the amount of food I was two weeks ago. Except what seemed like a feast then, now feels like the start of a massive famine. I'm hungry all the time.

And here's the bit I wanted to avoid writing because I don't know what I'm talking about. My knowledge is cobbled together from the glossy pages of magazines and numerous strolls through bloggyland - most notably Leigh Peele's blog.

Right, so I think have just done a re feed, by fooling my body into thinking that the famine was over and it had begun raining cheese again. Now that the sun has come out, my body is pleading for more cheese (and preferably some wine to go with) while working it's way through the spares it had put aside for a sunny, non-cheese raining day. Eventually it will work out that the cheese drought has started and it will become more efficient with the resources it has. Which is the point I started at two weeks ago.

Now, when I first read about re feeds I thought they sounded like an awesome idea especially created for gluttonous weekends full of cheese. But in fact, this is actually more painful than I had expected. There is one motivating factor however, which is the fit of those pants which I can now sit down in AND breath. Bargain. Just the small price of constant hunger to pay for it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

So that's what a Camelbak is good for

....look, it's going in a glass first, it's not like I'm drinking it straight from the barrel....

....well how else do you suggest I get it out when the tap isn't co-operating??...

....Aged? It's been stuck in there for two years....ok, a little less...but not much...

....No, I don't think I should be left home alone either :-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weekend away

I've been away camping the last 5 days. I always mean to write that in advance, but somehow blogging instead of packing on Friday night would not have been cool. Something about pulling my weight or some such nonsense.

I wanted to be a tourist in my own country. We never do that, instead flying overseas (or Tasmania, either way) to look at historic buildings, gorgeous gardens, drink wine and eat cheese. So I googled and googled and googled and ended up with a list easily to fill in 10 days.

We patted sheep - they are soft and curly! Yeah, city girl, I know.

Watched em' being shorn and herded, while listening to a yarn or two.

We tasted loads of wine, savoured cheese platters and wandered around looking at gardens, vineyards, wetlands and even (alleged) mountains.

Oh and walked avoiding these critters, hugged trees and gazed at the stars.

Saw the light at the end of the tunnel, before eating some heavenly lavender scones and hitting the MTB trail.

Ate a cheese ball...after trying some more wine and looking at another wonderful garden.

The best bit? Forgetting about fat, health and fitting in exercise. Moving all day long. Eating when hungry, mostly often and a lot. Not having cravings. No mirrors - lucky since I forgot to bring a comb; fingers are a wonderful invention. Forget about goals or plans for where I want to be in 6 months time.

In the car on the way we talked about MizFit's 'Unapologetically Myself'. Leaving everything behind a few hundred kilometres of bitumen, I decided to live it. Be in the moment. Feel comfortable in my skin. Accept all my peculiarities.

It felt amazing. Now the challenge is to carry that feeling forward today, tomorrow and next week.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Saying bye to crazy thoughts

It's the fourth day of eating more and amazingly I haven't turned into a gigantasaurus. Yet. Well if it hasn't happened in 3 whole days, I suspect it probably won't. Usually you can see yesterdays 3 pieces of cake right...there on my hips. So my freak out was unfounded.

But, I've been following my food intake closely. Like counting kilojoules. Oh yeah. Apparently I'm happy to do it when trying to eat more, not so great when trying to eat less. Then again I don't need much help with that! It also helps that the dialogue goes something like this:

- I'll eat this, this and this today. Hmm, not enough.
- Ok, I'll eat this too! Still not enough.
- How about this? Well, I could still do with a little more.
- What else can I eat. Damn it there's not enough food in this house!

Would you be surprised to know that I don't have sugar cravings much? That I'm starting to feel hungry all the time again? That cycling was eeeasssy the other day? That my biceps look like they've grown?

Speaking of spending inordinate amounts of time in front of the mirror admiring my biceps. I had some crazy thoughts the other day that needed squelching and fast. I've pretty much settled on two strategies that work well for me:

1. Appeal to my vanity. Stand in front of the mirror and admire all the bits that I like about myself. Point out all the changes, the muscles that are growing and sometimes even laugh a little at the jiggly bits, because they're a part of me too, so I try to do that lovingly. Try on clothes that now fit and ones that used to but now fall off. The other option;

2. Stop thinking about it. Do something else. Especially something creative where I can't think about feeling bad. It's so easy to spend hours worrying and wondering (and dare I say, reading about new exercises or wonder foods) how the next few kilo's will come off, as well as weighing and measuring. At the end of the day, the hard work comes from doing not worrying- eating well, exercising regularly. It doesn't actually take long to do those things, you know, 3-6 meals per day and half an hour of exercise. Less is more with weights. Sometimes it's better to do what needs to be done, then step away and not think about it. Good things come to those who (put the hard work in then) wait.

There you go, my strategies for pressing the "crazy thoughts" off button. They're polar opposites depending on what is appropriate. Both make me feel good about myself. So what do you do to make yourself feel better when the crazy thoughts come knocking?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A difficult day for Jen

I'm just thinking about Jen today. You never expect a tragedy like this to occur to yourself or someone you know in the flesh or not. It's a shock and there are no words to express it or words that can heal their pain. So today I just wanted to send out a prayer for her and her family.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The other extreme

The only time someone has ever told me that I'm not eating enough was my grandmother. She'd served up soup, followed by an enormous plate of pierogi -a yummy Polish potato dumpling dish drizzled with melted butter - and then some pastries which I had to refuse because I couldn't move. Well, my aunt has actually said the same thing after meals of similar epic proportions. But let's say that outside of Poland, no one has ever said I don't eat enough. Except for the trainer.

When he told me I should add in some food to what I eat daily, apart from protein shakes that is, I got anxious. If I eat more I'll put on weight right? So I ignored what he said for the most part until Friday when feeling full of spite I worked my upper body as hard as I could at the outdoor gym. Upon returning home I ate a 'huge' recovery snack and immediately felt sure that I had eaten so much that I wouldn't fit into my pants the next day. So I got busy calculating and found that he was right. I'm generally not eating enough, at least by rule of thumb calculations for women.

What's weird is that it happened in a fairly natural way. Originally I started eating a little less and kept going with that approach which made me feel great. Then I noticed that I wasn't getting as hungry as I used to. In fact these days I'm rarely hungry which seems like a blessing. I also fill up very quickly so it's not hard to eat less. I thought everything was going rather well.

Obviously it's a big deal performance and fat loss wise, but what frightens me most is that I'm scared to eat more. That seems really bad and alarm bells are ringing inside my head. There's some nasty thoughts coming back into my head about my body image as well.

So what to do except eat more, lift more and press the "crazy thoughts" off button.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I shouldn't be training

After extolling the virtues of seeking professional advice at the gym last week, I figured it was time I took a dose of my own medicine. So I signed up for an assessment and dragged myself to the gym yesterday.

I don't know what I was hoping to achieve, other than find out my body fat percentage and maybe do a fitness test that would earn me a shinny gold star acknowledging my incredible cardio fitness *cough, cough*.

Well, we didn't get off to a great start when the trainer perused my goals and exclaimed 'you want to get down to that body fat. That's low. That's what I'm at'. Embarrassed silence ensued. My consternation only grew as I stepped on the little scale that analysed all my deepest, darkest bits and spat out the analytical truth about me. .

A few months back I'd played with a friend's bio electrical impedance scale so I had an idea of where I was at then and where I should be now. I was horrified to discover that the fat percentage had remained the same. Instantly I felt huge, like I'd just gained back about 5kg as the number flashed up in front of me. As soon as I got home I had to try on my measuring pants. They still fit, but that doubt that I am fat didn't.

When it was my turn to ask questions, I wanted to know about post workout nutrition. I hope he didn't notice my glazed over eyes as he went into a long analysis of the various protein powders.

Then we moved onto my strength goals and what I needed to do to achieve them. I mentioned that I'm not a fan of sitting in the gym lifting weights and would prefer body weight exercises. Coincidentally, my two strength goals are being able to do push ups and chin ups. 'Impossible' he told me. In fact, apparently if I am not willing to devote 2 half hour sessions a week to strength training at the gym then I may as well not train at all :-(

I haven't changed his words at all. I'm serious. I may as well not train at all. Now that's not very helpful. Hey, I'm willing to change, I've proven that to myself this year. What I am not prepared to do is blindly follow. If it's the last resort, I'll suck it up and go to the gym twice a week, but I still cling to the notion that strength training can be done in a way that I enjoy. In fact I will build a crazy gym in my yard with ropes and ladders and bars before I will do another program at the gym.

I drifted off from the conversation at the point where he suggested getting a personal trainer so I would have someone to push me hard enough. After that I think he spoke at length about his own experience as a body builder training for competition while I drifted off into my sad little world wondering how on earth I was going to achieve my goals.

Those feelings of being defeated have turned to defiance. I will prove at the next assessment - about 6 weeks - all that I can do. Now, I just need to do a little research to work out how I'm going to get there ;-)

Anyone had a similar discouraging experience with a trainer? Anyone else rely mostly on body weight exercises or know a good reference point?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A private race

I picked up a copy of the latest Runner's World from the library the other day. It's not exactly that I need to add more to my reading pile, rather a glimmer of hope of resolving my love/hate feelings towards the sport. Running seems very charming on the surface, but dig a little deeper and I can see all the faults. Yet one flicker of a smile from Running and I keep coming back. Running has even made my best friend Walking seem slow and cumbersome, so while out Walking I can't help but think about Running.

Next week I am free of Running's schedule, so I am growing desperate to know if there will be another date or if our relationship is over. By sitting down for a moment with the running community I had hoped to find my answer I guess. What is it that Running had infected others with that they keep coming back?

I haven't found the answer in those pages, but instead I found another of Running's virtues. At the end of a few of the articles after the author's name was listed their personal best time. Apart from feeling shocked at how quickly 5K could be run (the women's world record is 14:11 held by Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibba) I didn't think too much about it until the following day.

We were discussing what we thought of as success after finding out what some old high school buddies have been up to in the last 10 years. It's easy to say that success is dependent on the individual, but harder to not feel average in comparison to your peers when they have been recognised for their talents. And yet, not everyone has the same talents and interests that they can be recognised for and therefore measure up against their peers. I thought about my own current interests and I thought about running, about personal best times.

Sometimes I have felt embarrassed reporting with great enthusiasm that I've just run for 25 minutes. After all, some of you have done half or full marathons so what's 5K in comparison? Then I would remind myself that for me, it is a big deal because I have never been able to run that far. I am my own benchmark.

While in many aspects of life I strive to keep up with my peers or meet expectations, running and fitness in general is not one of them. What a relief it is to just run for my own enjoyment and watch my own improvements without measuring up against anyone else. Unless I'm out to win a race there is no reason to compete, because everyone has their own story of how they came to be where they are. And even in the feature stories in Runner's World few people talked about winning the marathon, instead focusing on accomplishing their own goal, whether to qualify for another marathon or aiming for a personal best. It's as though they were running alone on an empty road and all that mattered during their race was them and the pavement.

So I like that running is all about me, all about my body and my limits. I like pushing my own boundaries and seeing how far I can go to become fitter, stronger, faster and better looking. I like that I am finally in control and becoming who I want to be. While I won't exactly be posting my accomplishments on Facebook, I can still be proud of myself for my achievements.

How about you. Do you work towards a personal best or winning the race? Do you like a bit of friendly competition to keep you motivated?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

If laughter is the best medicine...

...Then there are a whole lot of healthy people around after this weekend. After 2 months of weekly rehearsals where we delivered our lines and then scratched our heads wondering if anyone would actually be laughing, we finally had an audience. And we had them in stitches.

The evening consisted of four one act plays, three of which are locally written the other is "Dinner for One". Although they were supposed to be short plays two of them run for nearly 40 minutes, so being last we worried that everyone would be bored by the time they got to ours.

But no. After an hour and a half of humour, the audience particularly on Saturday night was well lubricated for our play. They didn't stop laughing almost the whole way through our play which made it difficult to deliver lines. Then again, can you go wrong with a play where the two male actors dress up as women mid way through?!

Friday with all it's wonderful opening night nerves was flawless. Seriously. Oh except when a cast member forget his line, but that was okay because he just started taking out his 'fake' breasts - socks - to buy some time. Ah yes, he was wearing a dress and my super high heels at the time!

I loved the experience so much that the only bad part of the performance was that it went so quickly. I was on such a high afterwards that I ate a huge piece of chocolate cake at the after cast party!

Saturday night was not so great. I spent all day so hyperactive in anticipation of being on stage again that by the evening I was totally worn out and all I wanted to do was snuggle up and watch a movie at home. Apparently I wasn't the only one, because it just wasn't a great night. Sure we got heaps of laughs, more than on Friday and I allegedly (because I didn't hear anything) got 'wohoo's' from the blokes when I appeared in my knee high boots, fishnets, leather jacket, mask, whip and itsy bitsy skirt (yeah, given the outfit that was really hard!) but the energy just wasn't the same as the previous evening.

Apparently more seasoned actors say this is normal and things will improve each night from now on. Sadly, that is only another two performances this coming weekend. It would seem that this is a week of endings, because it is the last days of the Couch to 5K programme also. Then what comes next? All I can say is that I hate endings.

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's show time

Tonight is opening night of the play. Yesterday I was bouncing off the walls, I couldn't keep still I was so excited. Today, not so much. The butterflies have arrived and the idea of an audience is making them flutter around in my belly. Ok, so what's the worst that could happen anyway? I could forget my lines or my entrance cue, but hey 'making stuff up as you go along' is a skill in itself right? I could accidentally hit one of the audience members with the tip of my whip when I crack it, but that's cool too because it would just make it more interactive for the audience which is fun. I doubt I will fall off stage - I worried about that before my uni graduation and that went by pretty uneventfully.

At least I won't be wearing my costume upside down tonight. After the dress rehearsal two nights ago the director approached me and in a whisper told me that I was wearing my corset the wrong way around. And all that time I couldn't work out why there were these pouch bits on my belly. Ahh, Le Booby holders! Oops.

The one thing I can't believe is that I haven't joined a theatre earlier. Even on the cold evenings we've been having lately, when all I wanted to do was stay home and snuggle up under the doona I've been coming home from rehearsals beaming from ear to ear, unable to fall asleep from excitement. Me thinks I love acting! Seems so silly now to have waited so long. But no regrets - the show must go on!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sweet temptation

Sweets. My ultimate weakness. Well that and staying snuggled up in bed each morning until I absolutely have to get up. But health wise it's cakes, cookies, desserts, chocolate - you name it and if it has sugar in it I want it. So when I set my goal for consistency, the number one dot point I wrote in my diary was to consistently eat less sweets. Seeing as I can count on a plentiful dessert on Sunday night each week I thought perhaps I could limit myself to just that.

So I patiently shared my goal with he who shares my house and gently suggested he do what he can to help me with my resolve. Nothing huge, no change in his routine just perhaps not planting the remains of last nights dessert in a prominent place in the kitchen and asking if I want some.

So within half an hour of our conversation, without saying a word, the creamy apple pie from the day before was on the bench, with one slice carefully plated up. As I got ready to go to rehearsal the entire pie remained on the bench, untouched while he sat right next to it surfing the web.

Upon returning home around 10pm, the plate with the slice had vanished but the rest of the pie still sat in the same spot on the bench. Now that seemed like in your face temptation to me. And yet, in a bizarre un-me like state, I wasn't tempted. Apparently I had made up my mind to stick to my goal in that special way, the one in which I can't be talked out of my decision even by the sweet siren call of creamy apple pie.

Now I can only explain my sweethearts behaviour as either; a) male complete absent mindedness or; b) he's worried soon I shall have more muscle definition than him. The most likely option is a however upon returning home yesterday he started doing chin ups and push ups. I'm sure that has nothing to do with me walking around the house proudly pointing out my biceps and gloating.

Well so far I have remained consistent, but what if my resolve falters at some point? How can I encourage more helpful behaviour from others? Does it actually make any difference or should simple resolve be enough? Have you gotten others to help you with your goals and how?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Time for new goals

Egg yolk creation
Thanks very much for the suggestions for egg yolk recipes. It occurred to me yesterday that there is a thing called google with tons of recipes when faced with a recipe dilemma. Actually, it reminded me of my mom who always asks us to find the information she wants for her - a google phobia perhaps? Anyway, I will probably keep referring back to the answers regularly, because I constantly end up with an oversupply of either egg yolks or whites.

After "borrowing" my sisters latest Vogue Entertaining + Travel and drooling, I mean looking at the pages I came across a brilliant recipe for a creamy apple pie that required egg yolks. Yet again I was asked to make dessert on Sunday so I tried the recipe. It was the most wonderful dessert I think I have ever tasted. And you know that equation fat sugar fat, well this one had a slight variation of fat sugar apples sugar fat. It was probably the most unhealthy thing I have ever made but holy crap it tasted good. Oh look is that a flying saucer at the window.

Shaking things up
Despite the cold overnight temperatures, I found myself back in a singlet this weekend as I painted door frames. Yes, this is my idea of winter - clear skies, sunshine and warm days! I figured that my fears over the approaching summer are not entirely unfounded seeing as soon the evenings will be warm again and it will be time to hit the beach. Now that I feel like I'm being honest about where I want to get in the next 6 months I've decided it's time to set some new goals.

My aim to begin with was to lose about 10% of my body weight in 6 months which I did. Then I started running and I am now nearing the end of the Couch to 5K being at week 8 (out of 9). If this was all simply about the way I felt I would be perfectly happy not to do anything more and just maintain, but it's been my dream to one day be in my best body. I have never in my life been anything approximating lean so the definition of 'best' is yet to be seen as well as being proportional to the amount of effort I am willing to put in.

The first 6 months were rather laid back - after all 6 months to lose about 7kg or 15lbs is a long time. But for the first time ever, it actually worked because I never had to be perfect. I could happily take 2 steps forward 1 back and learn along the way. The last few weeks with all the sweets made me realise that my approach was really successful for me in part because I didn't gain any weight which I take as I sign that I've learnt to balance out what I eat intuitively. No, I realise it's not healthy when I substitute calories from healthy food for sugar.

Now though, I'm getting bored with being constantly in 'I'm trying to lose weight' mode. It's time to shake up my relaxed approach a little and finish what I started. Each time I think about that I freak out and wonder if I should be following some kind of nutrition plan or start counting calories or go Primal. I am really scared of not being able to move past the point that I'm at now.

Still, I've come this far on the principle that I figure out what is best for me at a given time, so I am not ready to hand over the reins and follow just yet. And besides I'm fairly confident I know what I need to do to reach my goal. MizFit talked about it last week on Jen's blog - consistency. That is something that I am not. Over a long time frame that wasn't too much of an issue, but in the shorter term consistency is crucial to achieve a deficit.

The Goal
So from today for a period of 6 weeks my goal is to be consistent with regular strength training and eating in a way to achieve a calorie deficit. Seeing as I don't like keeping a food journal, I'm going to steal Cammy's idea of writing down splurges. Hopefully that will be a whole lot less work! And so far today, nothing to report.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A bowl of lonely egg yolks

Since the end of June, life has been very unsettled. Seeing there was nothing I could do to console their grief, I turned to the only thing I could remember that helps at times like these - food. I started doing an inventory in my head of everything I have cooked and especially all the sweets that I've made in the last two and a half weeks. Quite apart from the hospital visits and funeral arrangements, we've had three birthdays in the family and one of a good friend. I could write a whole essay about how important food is in nourishing the body as well as bringing comfort, but most importantly I think in the last few weeks it's brought people together and it has given me a purpose. Anyway here is an inventory of the sweets.

It all started on the last Sunday in June when my sister gave us the leftovers of a pound cake, a puff pastry chocolate slice and cheesecake she had made. The following day, pound cake and the puff pastry chocolate slice just seemed like a good idea at 2am on return from the hospital. Sleep deprived the next morning and armed with a packet of traditional German gingerbread cookies for all and sundry, the sweets slowly started to vanish from the fridge.

The following day was cheesecake (leftover from Sunday) for my birthday along with tiny caramel mud cake muffins that we gave away to my brother in-law the following day for his birthday. That night we had mandarin parfaits.

On Saturday the third course was stewed pears with rhubarb and cream. For our usual Sunday night dinner my Mom made custard with fresh strawberries. The following night was Viennetta at my mother in-laws and on Tuesday was a friends birthday. Her partner had forgotten completely so again I tried to heal with food - this time I opted for low fat chocolate cake and passionfruit melting moments.

Wednesday at the in-laws was carrot cake followed by two days of reprieve. The remaining melting moments may or may not have been eaten during this time. Realising the fact that the sweets were going to continue to be made I started to opt for healthier options especially after Tuesdays chocolate cake success. Saturday, dinner with the in-laws and a low fat walnut, chocolate and date pudding. Again on Sunday my parents came around and this time I tried Mark's Primal Custard.

Tuesday and again dinner with the in-laws. This time I made low fat lime cheesecake. Finally yesterday; my husband's birthday and a whole plate of chocolate orange cupcakes with maple frosting all for him (and me). I don't know if I hopped that writing this down would help dull my cravings for more sugar. If that was the intent, it has certainly worked, but now I have another pressing issue.

The problem with the low fat desserts has been the leftover egg yolks. I can think of two things to do with them - hollandaise sauce or custard. Have you got any suggestions?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The guilty truth

I didn't quit. I did the full run because even though I told myself that I could stop when it got too much, I didn't. I couldn't. Once I was there doing it, I pushed on to the end because I really wanted to finish this programme flawlessly. And as if to add an extra incentive the universe conspired to put a $20 bill across my path in the last 10 seconds of my run. There was no one else around. If I had quit I wouldn't have even gone down that path.

I've found a strength training programme that I really like. It's the 'Get an Action Hero Body' from Valerie Waters. Despite the seemingly easy, low weight exercises, I sweat more doing one set of each circuit than when running.

I started doing it in the first place because of a lingering fear - summer, bikini season. It was 10 degrees Celsius inside the house this morning and I'm scared of a bikini. That seems so stupid to me, as does the nagging doubt that I might fail and that this summer might end up being no different than every other. And yet, I've been twisted up inside for months now about my vanity - it shouldn't matter what I look like; it's about being healthy; don't hold yourself simply to how you look in a bikini.

These fears sit so uncomfortably next to the idea that I can accept my body the way it is. Honestly the less there is of it the more I like it and I still wish that it could be firmer, slimmer, stronger, better. So I love my body, but......Unconditional self love? I don't think so. It feels so wrong to admit the truth that a big part of what I really want is to look better.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Having my ass kicked

My husband has a shirt from New Balance that reads:

Enjoy sitting on your butt.
Because I'm gonna
kick it in a few hours.

Mostly I really love this shirt but these last few days, not so much. It was the first 25 minute run last week and my butt officially considered itself whipped. Now it's a whole new week of all 25 minute runs. I'm terrified.

Last week was awful. The wind was strong and I felt incredibly weak - I barely made it. Now I'm trying to put off the runs for later in the week. Actually I feel like quitting. I feel like it's all too much for me, that maybe I was delusional in thinking that I could ever run.

I was mesmerised by one of the frequently asked questions on the Couch to 5k website - why do people drop out during the C25K? Now I have the answer.

Still, it's better to be challenged and push through it, then give up the minute the going gets tough. That's not the new me....I hope.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Half way

In the middle of a bridge in Morocco

Last week was the middle of the year. It was the middle of my running program. My birthday. I wanted to do an update, a wrap up of the first half of the year. A look towards new goals. A new blog design. Life intervened. It does that sometimes.

I've been thinking a lot about health the last week. Spending time in a hospital does that. I realise there are no guarantees in life.

We talk a lot about health here, creating lasting change. Are we talking about a better life? Does health in the way we speak of it do this for us? Looking back at the last 6 months, I answer with a resounding yes.

These months have changed me not just my body. I live the way I do because it feels great. I've improved my quality of life. My fears of what I would need to become to be healthy were unfounded. But I don't do this for health, I do it because I love it.

Fear does not bind me to health. I don't try to control the way I live because I fear that my actions will make me sick or fat. Sometimes a date with a cake makes me happy. I forgive and that is health. This is a peaceful place, this is bliss.

The last week has made me realise that I wouldn't change anything. How about you?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Just keep running

A relative is very sick in hospital. Our lives are paused, watching, waiting at his ups and his downs. Monday already. A week since the phone call. Witnessing the pain and grief, so many thoughts and unanswered questions about life, health, the soul, even love float through my thoughts.

I wake before dawn each morning. Just keep running, I remind myself. Today before the hospital, the day after from the hospital. Do what needs to be done, then run. Mark the passing days by when you last ran.

A burst of endorphin filled joy at the first 20 minute run. Quelled. Too much pain in the faces of those close to me. A small success that seems suddenly insignificant. More questions about hopes, goals and failure.

Food. A shared meal and a laugh. No one should be alone. Do something to help. You can't take away their pain, at least feed their body. Walk, run, take them outside to bathe in the last rays of the sun. A glowing red sunset - a reminder of life as we witness the quiet embrace of death.

Just keep running, today and the day after.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Healthy living can be easy

Have you ever bought a magazine because it promised that just overleaf lay a diet and exercise program that would give you the body of your dreams? Each spring just as the days start to get warmer in September and the cold Westerlies have stopped blowing the magazine racks beckon with these promises. Spring brings that feeling of anticipation and the excitement that summer is just ahead. Day dreams are filled with picnics under the shade of cool trees, summer storms and hot days at the beach. Anything seems possible when the lull of winter is almost past.

I've bought into the dream almost every spring, believing that if I can just manage to stay on the program for the three months, I would have the body of my dreams. Just three short months and I would achieve my goal right? Of course the plan would need to become a lifestyle but by working hard anything was possible.

Healthy living is a matter of following a few simple principles - exercise regularly, eat clean, relax. But that can seem really hard when the starting point is at the polar opposite. Two of those principles disagreed with me and it wasn't the last one. I was scared of having to work really hard to reach my goals by turning down food that I loved simply because 'it wasn't good for me' or having to run regularly even though I hated running (yeah, I know). I could never willingly embrace what I saw as depriving myself of the joys of living for supposed health benefits or even a bikini ready body.

I doubt that I was alone in my unwillingness to change, because people tend to create an identity for themselves based on habits. We then describe ourselves as being the person with the insatiable appetite or the gym junkie. I for example am feeling very comfortable identifying myself as 'a runner' whereas in the past I was the one with the huge appetite and that is what I was proud of being. Healthy living threatened that identity which left me wondering who I would be; perhaps the sprouted greens and salad girl? I fought against becoming that person by not trying because being healthy seemed so hard. I chose to believe that if I found the right plan I could avoid becoming salad girl and still have the body of my dreams.

But what no generically written diet and exercise programme can do in all it's black and white glory is reflect real life. Reality is full of shades of grey and nuances where things change with time. Life is about stages and being ready to take the next step at the right time whether it's ramping up a fitness routine or enjoying eating sprouted greens and salad. By slowly adjusting your lifestyle over time you can grow into it so that it's more unpleasant to go back to old habits than continue with new ones. By tackling it in stages without surrendering an essential part of oneself it is possible to evolve a healthy lifestyle. When you are at the centre of the process, catering for your needs at each stage and adjusting when you are ready, then healthy living can be easy. Once you start, the evolution takes a course of it's own and all that is required is putting your feet, one in front of the other and things will change.

Except of course it's not as quick as a three month plan. But then, is it really possible to get an ideal body in three months? I read a blog by a body builder who had worked for years on his physic. That admission surprised me since I had always thought such a transformation would take many months perhaps, but not years. So maybe there is no express lane to a bikini ready body and it was never in our reach in the first place. What do you think?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Run, run, run

Oh no! They left without us.

Some days bloggyland makes me feel like the luckiest person around. Why? Well, apart from all the thoughtful comments you guys leave me, I can share with you my new found love that the people in real life are sick and tired of hearing about. Running of course! Each time I come in here to post I keep thinking that I could write a really thoughtful post on ageing gracefully or maybe how to get more calcium or various health philosophies. Instead I think, I know I'll write something about running! Won't that be interesting.

For example, I'm now onto week 3 of the C25K and oddly enough it seems easier than week 2. My theory is that running for 3 minutes continuously is easier than two intervals of 1.5 minutes. If anyone knows why, please enlighten me as I would love to know the physiology.

Next fascinating running fact is that I would have though that by the end of each week the workout should get easier, but it never seems to. What I have noticed however is that my recovery time is much shorter than when I started. Again, any explanations?

Hhhmmm. Where next?

Exciting yes? Actually, very few people in the real world know I have even started running as I am being very secretive about it. Perhaps one day when I get the opportunity to slip it into conversation I might just discuss that 5K that I will have run on the weekend.

But perhaps it shouldn't be so. One of the very few people who do know is my husband's colleague who lives locally and happened to be out at the same time I was on a run. When he was in the army he used to regularly run 5K in under 25 minutes and apparently I'm inspiring him to get out there and back in his running shoes. He's hoping to get his wife involved and we even talked about entering a team into the race I am planning to do at the end of August. And that is a wonderful feeling, to think that through my efforts I may encourage others to get active again. It will definitely help ward off the grumpiness on the next run.

And now that I've started this whole spread the feel good fit feeling, do you have any more advice on inspiring other (not so enlightened souls) in the real world to get fit?

PS Yes, the images are totally unrelated.

My, what a bad attitude we have here

I've never been good at pushing myself physically. My motto has always been "when the going gets tough, start whining and preferably quit alternatively complain more". But somehow I thought I was past that with all the positive things that I had written about previously. I suppose I should have heeded the signs that all was not figured out though. Each time I was on the last interval of the Couch to 5K I would swear that I would never be doing this again because it's just too hard.

The problem is that it is the opposite of what I would love to do more of in life. See adventure magazines make me drool, I can get lost in outdoor shops for hours dreaming up crazy ideas of exploring the wilderness and those huge posters of people 'livin' the dream'? They stop me in my tracks each time. I'm not content to simply be an armchair traveller. I want to be one of the them paddling, hiking or cycling in the great outdoors and loving the challenge. There's just always been one tiny little thing standing in my way, which makes my companions duck for cover (or they resort to bribing me with chocolate - can't whinge when my mouth is full!) - a lousy attitude.

Once I could have argued that I wasn't physically fit, like the time when we cycled in NZ. But last weekend on the overnight hike, I really had no excuses. I felt fitter than ever before and yet at the end of the first day I declared to my husband that I would never, ever accept another invitation to go walking again. Sure I would love to travel the world and hike the best trails on the planet, but walking just for the sake of it was not something I enjoyed doing and everyone had better start accepting that that is just who I am. Needless to say, the following day I didn't have a walking companion as he stayed well ahead of me.

After talking about my attitude with him a few days later, I felt ashamed at how much impact my negativity can have on his experiences. He never gets the self-satisfaction and elation at the end of the day after I've clobbered him over the head with my foul mood. So what of our travel plans for the future? At the moment I sure wouldn't want to walk the Inca Trail or hike to Base Camp at Everest (two of my favourite ideas) seeing as there is a high chance of me getting tired and grumpy.

So for me, I need to learn to push myself physically and be able to deal with that mentally so that I can finally reconcile my love of the outdoors and my aversion to pain. I want to be able to get the most out of my body and push my limits. For my husband, I want to get rid of my lousy attitude so that I can be a good companion so that he can finally enjoy a trip even when the going gets tough. I guess I should start with my very next run.

Any tips for leaning how to deal with the mental aspect of pushing yourself? Is it something that can change or do some people have more resilience than others?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It happened again

On Sunday afternoon I should have been filled with a sense a pride over finishing week two of the 5K training. Unfortunately yet again I wasn't congratulated for my effort and invited to join in week 3. This week, I can't blame my Ipod, because I simply didn't do the last of the 3 weekly runs.

No I haven't given up like I kept promising myself at the end of each day only to be filled with enthusiasm the following day like a belated runners high. We were away for the long weekend and I was even tempted to take my running shoes and do laps of the caravan park. But I didn't thankfully do that. We went away to go on a 30km overnight walk so I got my fair share of aches and pains as well as a healthy dose of self pride.

I'm not sure if it is necessary, but I decided to repeat all of the week 2 runs before progressing. Ironically, carrying up pack while hiking all day actually seemed easier than running. It would seem that all the hard work is paying off then.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A recession beating vegetable

I'm not normally inspired by recession beating things, but then 'technically' Australia isn't in a recession! Plus I wouldn't actually advocate growing a vegetable for that reason; taste, yes; sustainability, absolutely; availability, sure; recession beating, not really. But seeing as this vegetable has more of the latter than the former I thought I would jump in on the bandwagon. So I present to you....the pigeon pea or Cajanus cajan.

Originally thought to be from Asia, the pigeon pea is a grain legume grown in the tropics and sub-tropics around the world. It is commonly used in permaculture as a pioneer plant being a nitrogen fixer and helping to break up clay soils. Being a fast growing drought tolerant shrub between 2-3m tall makes it a hardy windbreak. Other uses include mulch production and forage for poultry.

Some loitering pigeon peas

It was originally invited into our garden a few years ago and now refuses to leave a long time after the first plant was cut to the ground. In the past it was a useful shade plant for the veggies in summer, as well as screening from the neighbours and it has very pretty delicate yellow and red flowers. But we never really ate the peas despite the huge quantities weighing down the bushes, because I'd heard were poor tasting, until one day my step-father showed an interest in procuring some for his chickens. Well, if it's good enough for the chickens I figured it would be good enough for us!

Raw, the green peas taste like cucumber, but cooked they taste like the beans we ate with them. The hardest part is shelling the peas although not as unpleasant as shelling chick peas which have spiky 'fur' on them which scratches your fingers. It's just time consuming but the sense of pride of eating a vegetable you grew, with no actual effort on your part, makes it worth it. And that's not all. They are a good source of protein, they can be sprouted making them even more nutritious and they can be ground into flour. Talk about versatility in one vegetable!

Raw, naked peas

The dried peas also have a use, as apparently in India they are a staple for making dhal. We have few dried ones at the moment, but when the time comes I will be sure to compare a dhal from split peas as is common here to a pigeon pea version.

So that is my amazing vegetable of the week - useful in the garden, on the table and a plant that just won't die! Ever grown or eaten pigeon peas? Do you have any unusual plants that you have grown or seen at the markets? Do you like buying random vegetables you've never heard of and experimenting?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Treadmill vs pavement running

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (ok maybe not) I joined a gym....*waiting for applause* :-) At this gym, my favourite cardio machine was the treadmill. One day when walking on said treadmill, I realised that instead of listening to music I didn't like and breathing in recycled smelly air I could be outside with the birds and sunshine (and sunscreen) walking my dog, who gave me sad puppy eyes each time I left her to walk on said treadmill. So I didn't renew my membership.

Shortly thereafter I discovered one of the great disadvantages of not using a treadmill. At the peak of my gym going I could run for at least 25 minutes non-stop. I don't remember the distance or speed, but that effort made me immeasurably proud of myself. Unfortunately, it never translated to the street. There was absolutely no way I could run even half that time on the road. I always wondered why that was the case and now that I have started doing some running I thought I might search out the answer.
  1. Wind resistance. Apparently even a slight breeze can make a big difference to the amount of effort required and I was shocked that this was one of the biggest reasons.
  2. Uneven ground. It may look flat, but it is unlikely to be. Which is true if you have ever ridden a bike with loaded pannier bags. Plus you may be dodging puddles, dog poop, little kiddies on bicycles, parked cars or any number of things in your path which tends to vary your pace. And of course you might actually have to face a hill.
  3. Propulsion. Unless living in an earthquake prone area or Godzilla is about, then the ground doesn't move underneath you. This is even addressed in shoe design as explained by Simon Bartold, International Research Consultant for ASICS. It's all about your centre of gravity which on the pavement which needs to be propelled forward by the leg muscles. On a treadmill however, the centre of gravity is static, being moved up an down on an unstable surface instead of forward.
The consequence is that research shows running on the road burns more calories than on a treadmill. But at the end of the day, it depends on what the desired outcome is. For example I'm not interested in the calories, but rather being able to run a 5K race therefore I choose to train outdoors, well that and I don't like gyms even though I no longer have a dog to walk. But if that's also your goal and regular outdoor runs aren't an option, then you can simulate the intensity of the outdoors with a 1 degree incline on the treadmill which will also provide a similar calorie burn.

But there are also plenty of reasons to stay on the treadmill if that's your thing. Often, they are padded so cushion your feet better putting less strain on your body. This translates to fewer injuries. Other advantages include avoid unpleasant weather (although I can testify that jogging in the rain on soggy grass is actually more fun than it would seem), safety, finding having a suitable place to run and convenience. On the forums where this seems a hotly debated topic, some argue that having a set pace on a treadmill means they can push themselves constantly at a steady pace whereas on the road they would be more likely to slow down.

So there you have it, an answer after all these years! What is your preference - hitting the pavement or the treadmill. Why do you choose one or the other for any form of exercise?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A run before dinner

The first week of the Couch to 5K has officially been completed. In typical giant leap style I was on the verge of skipping the first week because it just seemed too easy and moving straight onto week 2 at the very least. Thankfully the lazy part of me took over figuring that if the first week was easy then all the better - no point pushing myself too hard is there?!

Well, it wasn't easy. The first few runs weren't a problem but by the 7th and 8th interval I was ready to give up the whole plan. Except then the following morning I would wake up disappointed that it wasn't a running day. That feeling would evaporate the next day and by the 7th interval I was back to cursing the whole idea.

Until Sunday that is. I had spent all day doing things I was supposed to, like cleaning the house, painting a door frame, cooking for my family who were coming around in the evening for dinner. The Final Week 1 Run lingered on my to-do list when everything else got crossed off. I was genuinely disappointed when 40 minutes before they turned up, I had only just finished cleaning my brush and closing the paint tin. I was torn between for once in my life having everything ready when my guests turned up like a domestic goddess versus hearing that sweet sweet voice whisper softly in my ear "if you have completed your first week, congratulations." I chose the voice.

I followed his commands running when he told me, walking when he told me and paying attention to keeping my body loose when he told me. And then, without warning, he stopped talking to me! The little red light flashed on my Ipod and he was gone like the battery. I persevered without him to complete the last four intervals but I was devastated. All week, well on two other occasions, I had waited for that glorious moment when he would praise me for finishing week 1 *bursts into tears* and I never got to hear it!

Oh and if you have no idea what I'm talking about, as suggested by Cammy (Thank you oh so much) C25K have a podcast for each of their running weeks and they are the absolutemostbestthingeverandIdon'tknowhowIcouldhavedoneitwithoutyouRob *swoon* And better yet than all this fitness/health/strength/good for heart mumbo jumbo I found out that I can put podcasts on my wee little Shuffle. Which means....I can become well versed in a foreign language while I walk! Ha ha, no more listening to the birds for me!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tempting, tasty, tantalizing treats

It's 6pm on Saturday night and you've just turned up at your friends place for dinner. After a day of cleaning, shopping and then going for an afternoon stroll at the local park you realise that you're actually pretty hungry. Dinner is a fair way off, so you begin by chatting over a pre-dinner drink. On the table sits the appetizer, just a wee little snack to get you to dinner. What do you do?

This is something I have been wondering about for months and seeing as it's the weekend, what better time to ask. Depending on where we are, the snacks vary from sweets at my in-laws, salty nuts at my parents, bruschetta with dip, cheese and crackers, those puffed up rice snacks or on the very rare occasion, chopped up veggies. Often it's food that should be eaten in moderation or something that would not cross the threshold of my house because it's too tempting.

I've noticed that when served at our house the snacks disappear very, very quickly. I watched bemusedly last weekend when over pre-dinner drinks I needed to top up the crackers repeatedly and the carrot sticks were left nearly untouched. The outcome was pretty predictable - when the call to the table was made everyone looked sheepish and mumbled that they weren't really very hungry any more.

I wouldn't see a problem if this was an occasional splurge, but if you are doing this most weekends, then up to 2 out of 7 days becomes a problem. I'm speaking from experience here - we have a full dinner with my family every weekend on top of socialising with friends. Sharing food with family and friends is very pleasurable and I like long multi course meals that start out with casual banter over a drink. So the traditional dinner becomes a tug-a-war between being conscious of what I'm eating while still enjoying the moment as well as the effort that has gone into the meal.

So what can you do as a guest? Not turn up so hungry. Yes. Use self control. Absolutely. Randomly wander around friends houses with drink in hand asking about each painting, picture or knickknack until dinner time? Sure, especially if they are renovating (Note to self: make friends with more people who are renovating).

But what about when you are the host? What I want to know is as hosts do we have a responsibility to our friends and family regarding what we serve them, particularly before dinner? Or is it up to each of us to be adults and take responsible for what we put in our mouths regardless of temptation? Do you serve pre-dinner snacks and if so what are your favourites?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Frustrated to the core

There are two types of people in the world; those who like pleasant, fun and enjoyable activities like walking or running or riding a bike; and then there are those who enjoy repetitively lifting, pulling or pushing lumps of steel of various size. I am not one of the latter people and I would like to take this opportunity to publicly declare that I hate strength training (at least now that the novelty of admiring my biceps has worn off). I was going to add a third category of people who don't like exercise at all, but I figured they don't exist right!?!

Begin rant: After an hour working on the fit ball dutifully following the instructions of my paper trainer I was not only exhausted but totally frustrated. I cannot for the life of me find a more boring way to exercise than to do 15 reps x 2 on each side of exercise after exercise. It's like being the machine in Ikea that pounds the chair 5 million times to prove the durability. Up, breath in, down, breath out, up, breath in, down, breath out! It's more boring than staring at the ceiling because at least then I get to think....other than one....two....three.....snore...I mean four....and I was even listening to the radio which although interesting didn't improve the situation at all.

By the end of 500 reps of all the exercises I couldn't shake the feeling that I had just wasted a whole hour of living! And one other thing, no make that two - why does the fit ball like to over complicate simple exercises that done on the floor are doable but done on the ball crush one knee into the floor while cramping other parts of the body that aren't even a part of the exercise? Yes, I'm looking at YOU ball!!

The second thing is the 5 million various exercises that work all the little bitty bits of the body. I hate sitting on the ball reading pages and pages of instructions to end up in a tangle of arms and legs uncomfortably propped up against the ball only to find that I the leg I am supposed to awkwardly be raising at an odd angle is stuck under the other one. All I can say, is thank goodness I'm not a multi armed or legged deity!

End rant: The only good thing I could glean from it is the fact that today I am really sore. And I actually love the feeling because it means I've worked. There has got to be a better way to strength train that lifting, pushing or pulling weights and please, please oh ever knowledgeable and wise bloggers tell me that its yoga!

Which category do you fall in - do you love weights or cardio? Have you found an enjoyable way to strength train?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mandarins, possums, passion fruit and strawberries

So much juicy goodness

The mandarins are now ripe, so while siting on the front stairs waiting for my mom to arrive I finally picked one. It was ripe, sweet and juicy and so fresher than fresh that I could feel my cells dancing with joy just like when I drink juice. I love the surge of excitement or happiness or ove for something that I enjoy doing. That's how I feel about my garden and the things that grow in it. It's a fair bit of work and the grasshoppers seem to be getting a disproportionally large share but I just love that I can grow at least some of my own food.

The evidence

I went to the back yard and noticed something unusual just by the compost bin - a passion fruit skin with a whole in it. This was clear evidence that the possums had been dining at their local restaurant last night. No wonder they thrive in suburbs! We have at least 2 living in our ceiling and they often eat fresh scraps from the compost bin which is about 20m from where they exit the house. What do they do the rest of the night then apart from making babies! We've had our fair share of those too.

Going out for the evening?

Anyway, I was confused by the skin as we hadn't thrown away any intact passion fruit recently. To my delight, I looked up and there in the mulberry tree was a passion fruit vine that had crept over from the neighbours with 4 deliciously ripe fruit dangling within reach. Heaven. They too are sweet and tantalising on the taste buds.

I hope there more!

Finally, it's time to plant strawberries. We bought 10 plants in a little bundle from the markets last weekend and hope to have a strawberry patch by our front door. They are 'Camarosa' variety which should produce big, red juicy fruit towards the end of the season. It's not an heirloom variety unfortunately and since it crops late we might have to procure some other types to have strawberries all winter long.

The new strawberry plants getting settled in.

Do you grow any of your own food? Ever had that surge of pride from eating something that you had put work into?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Establishing a routine....gulp

Before I have time to change my mind about this 5K thing, I'm committing to a routine. You should know, that I absolutely despise routines so sticking to one may actually be harder then training. I wrote yesterday about not wanting to do it because of flawed motivation but since committing I realised I am ubber excited by the prospect of me being able to run for 5 whole kilometres. I think it is something I used to dream of in high school. It's time I got on with it then isn't it!?!

So the training plan comes from Cool Running: The Couch-to-5K-running-plan. The tittle sold me, but apart from that it seems simple enough to follow. Later down the track, there are also free training sessions through the race organisers so I hope to join in with those. Now for the really boring part, the actual plan:

Monday - Running training
Tuesday - Cycling & Body Balance
Wednesday - Running training
Thursday - Walk & Fit ball workout
Friday - Running training
Weekend - Walk one day, rest other day

Wow! That feels great just writing it down, I could physically feel the excitement (or was it anxiety) rippling through me. One minor detail - I don't have a suitable watch or distance measuring device (so not tech savvy if you can't tell) other than a trundle wheel (just kidding). Any recommendations on one that may be easy to use? Is following strict times or distances actually necessary? Do you have any training advice?

Monday, May 25, 2009

All talk and no action

No figs where harmed during the photo shoot. that's a different story!

Wanna know what cake we have this week? Probably not but that's not going to stop me! Again we have a layer cake that stands at over 10cm high. This week we have chocolate sponge top and bottom separated from the vanilla sponge by a layer of whipped cream with little jellies in it. And if that wasn't bad enough, we also received a handful of figs stuffed with white chocolate and dipped in dark chocolate. As my Mom packed these treats in a box for us I moaned that I would get sooo fat from all of these sweets. She brushed me off with a 'well if you only have a little piece each day' comment to which my husband promptly responded that the cake and figs were for him anyway! Ah my family is so helpful.

Anyway to the point of this post: a few months ago I decided I needed a fitness challenge. In my typical style I dreamt big - a bit like stating that I wouldn't even have a tiny piece of cake during the week. Yes, I went off and found one of the most physically challenging races I could - an adventure race - and suggested that as an option. Alternatively if the race was only to involve running, then the least I would train for was 10K. No small steps here - unless you're living on the edge you're taking up too much space is my motto!

Mainly because of the difficulty of the challenge I proposed to tackle, I began over analysing the situation in my head. Eventually I came to various conclusions and drafted a multitude of excuses why I shouldn't participate in any race or indeed train for an event. The main one that sticks out is the motivation behind trying to get super fit which has much less to do with health and much more to do with wanting love. I've keep meaning to blog about it (wanting love as motivation) but I haven't come up with a solution to the issue so it just pings around in my brain occasionally. In any case Charlotte at the Great Fitness Experiment wrote a perfect post about it last week. After all, if the motivation for exercising was more about others than myself and I didn't enjoy the process then trying would be bad. After extensive over thinking I have even worked out all the negative consequences I might face if I trained, most notably having higher expectations for my fitness in the future.

So, should the flawed motivation underpinning my desire to be fit enough to run a race stop me from actually training for one? I've finally reached the conclusion that it shouldn't because regardless of the reasons for it, the desire to improve my fitness is alive and kicking inside my head. So I've chosen a 5K run to participate in at the end of August. It's in my diary, it's on the blog so it's too late for thinking. Now I have a few months to train for something that is still a challenge, but not such a far cry from anything I have ever done before that it seems like climbing Mt Everest. I'll finally be taking little steps and not biting of more than I can chew.

Which brings me back to dessert. Little steps right?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The cake is calling to me

Last week it was a rich, fudgy chocolate cake. This week, it's a Polish layer cake that stands at over 10cm tall a slice. The top is covered in chocolate icing and the next layer down is chocolate poppy seed sponge. After that I have no idea, because I was too busy eating my slice on Sunday to listen to the rest. It was delicious, although not as good as last weeks cake. The sad thing is, that I will probably never eat a slice of this cake again. My sister only cooks a recipe once...ever...and although a hefty piece lies invitingly on a plate in the fridge and calls to me, I won't eat it. I'm practising willpower and it hurts a lot. Mainly because I'm not very good at it.

Each week after dinner with my family we bring home some dessert, which usually last a day or two. But then by the second or third night, we've had a taste for sweets after dinner so the ice cream comes out of the freezer or chocolate or maybe some biscuits. Eventually I discover that I am actually eating a lot of sweets even as snacks on the weekend when I'm hungry and we are working on the house or landscaping. So I decided last week to stop having sweets during the week. I've tried every method that I've ever heard recommended to reduce sugar intake, but it simply hasn't worked. So now I am down to willpower, which isn't supposed to be very effective. But last week I got over my plateau by resisting chocolate cake so each time I am about to walk over to get a sugar fix I remind myself about that. I'm not sure how long I can keep my willpower muscle flexed, although it might just hold out until my husband finishes all the sweets in the house!

I'm curious, what are your secrets to controlling your sweet urges? Is willpower really hopeless or is it a show of strength? Isn't willpower supposed to be a good thing?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Myth busting exercise

If you are anything like me - a bit of a novice in this exercise business - then perhaps you are also confused. The confusion stems from the amount of 'helpful' articles written about the best times, activities and speeds of exercise to get you well on your to getting your ideal body or getting over the plateau. And far too often I've trusted those articles that have told me that my exercise programme isn't working because it's not before breakfast or it's not in the optimum fat burning intensity. I've trusted the experts because the more I've learnt about exercise and specifically fat loss, the more confused I've gotten. Forget the 'just do it', because there is a right time and a right place and I obviously don't know what they are otherwise I wouldn't have plateaued. Right? Wrong and Choice is here to de-myth all the things I have believed about exercise and not in a fitness magazine type way. Most of their articles are by subscription, but this little gem isn't so you can read the whole article here. So, lets get to myth busting - here are my favourites.

1. My favourite fact: Chocolate = 1250kJ. One hour walk = 1250kJ. Chocolate here I come. And that's how we all gain weight. Why? (Please someone tell me I wasn't the only one who didn't know this!) Because sitting writing blog post for one hour = 625kJ. So walking only constitutes an additional expenditure of 625kJ over the amount I normally expend.

2. My least favourite fact: The reason I walk is because I'm in the optimum fat burning zone. Yup, that's the reason. It's got nothing to do with being lazy. And it's true that low intensity exercise burns more fat as a percentage of energy burned, except that the total amount of energy is really more important. So increasing intensity and leaving the zone will not only get me fitter, but also use more overall energy.

3. Not justify my hunger fact: If I exercise in the morning my metabolism is increased all day long. Which explains why I'm always hungry after morning exercise. False! While after burn does happen (known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) it is generally overestimated. For a meaningful after burn you would have to work long and hard, so my increased hunger is probably unjustified as is exercising in the morning for the sake of the after burn if it doesn't fit well into my routine.

4. The myth that changed my routine: Exercising on an empty stomach burns more fat. You hear something enough times and you believe it. So during my plateau I figured that if I exercised before dinner instead of after breakfast I would be home and hosed. Again, it's true that after fasting you burn more fat, but the total amount of energy expended is more important that whether it's fat or carbohydrate. Which is wonderful, because now I don't have to feel guilty for not wanting to get up at 5am!

5. It's a shame it's almost winter fact: I've always heard that swimming is not helpful for fat loss, not that I ever understood why and spent countless laps trying to work it out. Anyway, it's false as long as you don't eat more because you just spent lots of time in cold water and you work hard enough.

How about you? Did you know all of these already? Got any more of your own?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thank you

I don't think I have written very much about my downs over the last few months, mostly the ups. That isn't to say that there hasn't been plenty of bumps and doubts and feelings of failure, but mostly I wanted to focus on the positive on stuff that could be useful to others. And partly because I've been frustrated recently with this blog the focus of my animosity.

I haven't exactly been measuring my progress by kilo's lost but by how I felt about myself and exercise and food. Looking back the changes have been phenomenal. One year ago I certainly wouldn't have imagined that I would love going for a walk each day so much so that if I had a tail it would be wagging furiously each morning in anticipation. But despite the really good changes, I haven't been able to move past the desire to lose weight. And unfortunately that just stopped happening aka the plateau.

Trying to write in this blog reminded me of that every day and I felt like I was failing and it annoyed me a lot. I didn't want to be here, because I didn't want to think about how nothing was happening. But because of you dear readers I didn't want to give up on this blog, which would have meant giving up on myself too. It would have meant that I probably would have returned to my old habits because I could justify that this was just the way my body was and no amount of exercise or diet could improve it. I've finally pushed past the plateau although it did involve sacrificing my share of the most divine chocolate cake, but now I think it was worth it. I'm so glad I didn't give up and I wanted to thank you all for reading. Knowing you were out there has made a big difference and I really appreciate all your nice comments. I hope I can return the favour. Have a wonderful weekend :-)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

There's no sense in not liking yourself

I woke slowly, my consciousness returning after a long, deep sleep. My first thought was the same as every day; 'I don't' want to get up, it's so nice and warm in here.' The second; 'Hey look, I'm still here! Same thoughts, same issues, same me!' No, I don't' usually acknowledge my state of being when I wake up, except fro hunger that is.

Before I went to bed, I had looked up some song lyrics from an Aussie musical comedian - Tim Minchin - that I had watched a documentary on a few weeks ago. I've been to his performances before and he is a wonderful entertainer, with a dark sense of humour. Anyhow, the song was "Not Perfect" (check out the full song, it's great) and the lyrics I was interested in where these:

This is my body
And I live in it
It's twenty nine and twelve months old (Note: Will remember this line for when I turn 30!)
It's changed a lot since it was new
It's done stuff it wasn't built to do
I often try to fill it up with wine
And the weirdest thing about it is
I spend so much time hating it
But it never says a bad word about me

This is my body
And it's fine
It's where I spend the vast majority of my time
It's not perfect, but it's mine

So here I was again, another morning in the same body. And I bet tomorrow will be the same too, because I like Tim spend most of my time in my body, except for the occasional out of body experience obviously.

Now, just think about the pointlessness of not liking what you have been give. It might not be perfect, but hopefully I have a long time on this earth and if that's the case then I better get used to what I have, because quite frankly I'm kinda stuck here until I take my last breath. Unlike a bad marriage or job for example, I can't leave which give me two options; a) keep pointing out all my faults and make each day just that little bit more unhappy; or b) learn to love it.

Making the most of a bad situation then? Well, when you put it that way, perhaps the reflection is much better than I first thought!

fleet phospho soda