Sunday, October 31, 2010

Let's nail it!



I'm joining up with Liz in her Nail it November efforts. There are only two months left of this year, and I intend to make the most of them.

So, during November, I'm going to work on a few things.

I have a bit of a bad habit of reaching for any old thing for lunch when I'm at home. Working day or not, I need to be consistent about eating properly. That means protein, vegies and all.

So I'm saying NO to having "whatever" for lunch on the weekends.

I need to be up early to train, or it isn't likely to happen, but like Liz, I have a tendency to stay up later than I can afford to.

So I'll be saying NO to late nights.

My fitness needs a kick in the pants, and I can't afford to pussyfoot around with cardio if I'm going to get myself up to speed any time soon. I can talk myself out of a cardio session on the slightest pretext ...it's one of my talents. ;)

So I'm saying NO to wussing out on cardio. No cutting it short, no scaling it back, and definitely no skipping it.

That should do it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Let the holidays begin!

A lot of Melbournians take a sickie, an RDO or some other kind of leave on Monday, to make it a lovely four-day weekend for the Melbourne Cup. Me, I take it a step further and take the entire week off.

Hey, I'm going to the races on Thursday, and it takes me a long time to get ready.

An ounce of prevention

This is interesting:

Australia is set to have a national preventative health agency after the federal opposition declared it would support the body if some changes were made...

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said more preventative action on health would take pressure off hospitals.

The agency would coordinate education campaigns and research but it would not be responsible for imposing taxes on junk food, cigarettes and alcohol, Ms Gillard said...

Australian Medical Association President Andrew Pesce said the agency would play a key role in informing and education Australians about getting and staying healthy.

"A growing number of Australians are at high risk of serious diseases and premature death due to excess weight, smoking and excess alcohol use," Mr Pesce said.

"Doctors are seeing the consequences of these problems in their patients every day and much of it can be prevented."

Mr Pesce said the agency, with the support of a doctor on its advisory council, would provide a central focus for evidence on prevention measures and a coordinated national and strategic approach to preventing chronic disease.


The Age, October 26


Spending money on preventing major health issues certainly beats chucking billions into the hospital and pharmaceutical systems after the horse has bolted.

I'll be waiting to hear what this new agency will actually DO. And whether it can make the people it's intended to help begin to take some responsibility for their own health.

Hmm.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Final Five

Ocsober has only five days to run (including today) and I'm feeling very smug about getting through 26 days without resorting to buying a Leave Pass. At $50 a day, the level of desperation would need to be severe to overcome my ingrained tight-arse tendencies anyway.

Bike Boy has still been drinking beer and spirits, but he's very thoughtfully refrained from opening a bottle of wine all month. Not that it would have bothered me particularly, but I appreciate the gesture.

I found myself at a pub following a funeral a week ago and happily sipped a lime and soda while everyone else had wine, vodka and so on. Saturday's wedding wasn't even a drama - I was driving anyway - but again we ended up at a pub between the church service and the reception, and I drank one lemon, lime and bitters, a coffee and then water. I even toasted the happy couple with water. No way was I touching that champagne!

Mostly, I haven't missed it. Once or twice I've felt like relaxing with a glass of wine after working all day outdoors, but the desire passed pretty quickly. Some Perrier or San Pellegrino served with a slice of lemon in a wine glass made a perfectly adequate substitute.

I'm looking forward to Oaks Day though - there will be some champagne consumed at the races. Thank goodness the Cup carnival falls in November.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Survived!


As per my plan, this morning I fronted up to the 6:00am RPM class at my gym. I had a bad night, and when the alarm went off, I seriously thought about giving it a miss - for about five seconds, before my conscience kicked me out of bed.

I wasn't quite matching the cadence the instructor was suggesting, and my resistance levels were probably a little light too, but I was making a conscious effort not to overdo things to the point where I'd be dragging my arse by the middle of the class. Of course, I wondered if I was being a wimp. But when I started to feel a bit nauseous in Track 6, I knew I wasn't wussing out.

Two things struck me about the rest of the participants:

1. All the women were wearing track pants. WTF? The lone guy in the class was in regular old shorts, but it was just little old me in my bike nicks. Track pants? Seriously? I think I'd have died of heat exhaustion.

2. I showed up with my 750ml bottle of water and my 1L of Extend. By the end of the class, I'd emptied the litre bottle and had less than half of the water left. Everyone else was sipping daintily on their 600ml water bottles. How the hell do you get through 55 minutes of intense cardio with a piddling 600ml of water? Am I just a water piggy?

Anyway, I survived and my big bowl of oats was very welcome. :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

I went out to buy some apples and....

Anyone remember that old game? No? So it's just me who was a daggy Girl Guide then?

Anyway, moving right along...I urgently required some apples today, so I popped out to the shops at lunchtime. Then out of nowhere, I thought I should just have a browse around for something to wear to the Oaks next week. I was going to recycle something, but I've done that the past couple of years and frankly, I'm over it.

Before I knew it I was loaded up with this dress:



These WICKED shoes:



This matching bag:



And this fascinator:



All I need now is a just-in-case jacket and I'm all set.



The best bit? This whole bundle of awesomeness cost me under $160.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The excitement never stops around here

In my dreams plan for the day:

Go out for second breakfast.
Go furniture shopping (and not even think about how much anything costs).
Laze on the couch with a magazine and a cuppa and maybe nod off for a while.

Reality bites plan for the day:

Have second coffee (hey, it's the weekend).
Do another four loads of washing, hang out same.
Give house a cursory clean. Prioritise kids' bathroom...I think I saw something move in there!
Seasol garden, spread some moo poo on the fruit trees.
Oil outdoor furniture.
Iron Bike Boy's shirts for the week.
Return DVDs and go shopping for milk and other boring necessities.
Organise food and training gear for tomorrow.
Collapse in an exhausted heap onto mis-matched furniture to watch an hour of TV before crawling into bed just a wee bit too late for my own good.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

K.I.S.S.


Simplicity can be a good thing when we're trying to juggle a lot in our lives. More (or more complex) is not necessarily better.

Think about it: You have a job, kids, a house to keep (more or less) clean and tidy, bills to pay, shopping to do, meals to prepare, training to get done - and somewhere you'd like to squeeze in a bit of social life, and maybe some quiet time with your significant other as well.

Much as I love interesting food, and enjoy variety with my training, I find that over-complicated meal plans and training programs can send my brain into overload mode when I already have a lot on my plate. Given my recent history of anxiety, I'm not keen on pushing my limits in that area.

I usually manage to swing a day off every couple of weeks - ah, the beauty of flexible working arrangements! But right now, I'm three-quarters of the way through a four-week stint of solid five-day weeks. I know! You're thinking: Aww. Poor love! (Shut up, OK? I know I have it easy.) Anyway, between standard work days and my irritatingly long commute, I'm not actually home all that much on weekdays. Then weekends are a blur of catching up on the washing, running errands and trying to fit in all the stuff that's piled up during the week.

I'm actually coping quite well, but trying to get my head around anything that requires real brain power outside work is an impossible task. After spending eight seven hours a day using my grey matter to do research, compile spreadsheets, analyse data, interpret laws that appear to be written in a mysterious foreign language and then draw some logical conclusions from all of that, I do NOT want to be thinking hard when it comes to anything else.

So my simple approach involves:

1. Using tried and true exercise programs; ones that I'm comfortable with and that I know work for me. I have an old weight training program that's a basic two-day upper and lower body split. I've deleted a couple of exercises that I simply can't do with my dodgy neck and shoulder, but the rest works beautifully for me. I'm also keeping cardio super-basic. Steady-state or simple intervals suit me just fine at the moment, along with some Spinervals workouts. No thinking required there; just do whatever Coach Troy orders. Plus making an effort to get off my butt and walk more every single day. (Thank you, trusty pedometer!)

Nothing new, nothing fancy, nothing that requires me to carry a written plan around the gym in case I forget anything. Nothing's set in stone though - if I feel like doing something different on a given day, then I just wing it.

2. Eating whatever's easiest - within reason. There isn't much that Bike Boy cooks that I won't eat, so this doesn't pose a problem. I'm not being fanatical about avoiding processed food - if we're home late, I'll happily drag a jar of balti sauce out of the pantry and do a quick cheat's curry. Mostly, I just add extra veggies to whatever's on the menu and I'm good to go.

I'm also aiming to have leftovers from our dinners most nights, so we have lunches ready to go in the fridge. Less work and less thinking...

3. Keeping my gym bag packed with everything I need. Towel, gloves, resistance band, water bottle, ipod. All I have to do is chuck in my phone and leave the bag by the garage door with my car keys before I go to bed, and I'm set for the morning.

My no-brainer, less-is-more plan seems to be working just fine at the moment. I don't feel as though I have to do X, Y or Z. I'm not bored out of my brain (not yet, anyway). I feel challenged, but I'm not dreading my workouts ...or organising my meals.

Best of all, I'm not feeling frazzled or overwhelmed, and I can see improvements in my fitness. Plus my clothes are getting looser.

Now I need to go hang out in my wardrobe and ponder what to wear to a wedding this afternoon...at least I have a few choices. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Too smart for my own good

I'm in the habit of (mostly) writing my posts at night, and setting them to publish the next morning. Sometimes I'm super-organised and write two or three posts at once and then set them to publish, one each day, over the next few days.

That works really well when you have a head overflowing with ideas, because you can spread them out instead of bombarding your readers with umpteen posts on the one day. You also don't have to worry about days when you're too busy to blog or you're completely void of inspiration - you can chill and just let automated publishing take care of things for you.

Only problem is, you have to know what today's date is, so you can figure out the date you want your post to publish. I can be a bit ditzy about that at times. Which is why you got two posts yesterday. One of them was meant to appear like magic this morning, but ...oops.

So, this is all you get for today's post. Tough luck.



Thursday, October 21, 2010

All grown up



I got up yesterday morning to find blood everywhere in the kitchen. No, it wasn't a horrible accident, just The Middle Child getting ready for Muck Up Day and mixing up fake blood for his zombie costume.

Tonight he'll suave it up in shirt and tie and ride in a limo to the Year 12 formal. Then we'll be into the whirlwind of exams and graduation and results and uni offers.

I'm just wondering what happened to my chubby little cherub with the blonde curls.

Soaking up the non-skankiness

I’m enjoying the new gym. It’s fun to have a new play space, but I keep finding more good things about it:

1. RPM classes at no (extra) cost. Most of the times don’t suit me, but there’s the Tuesday 6:00am class and the Thursday 6:00pm class...which *ahem* my sister in law instructs ...I KNOW! How embarrassing that I’ve only been ONCE in the year and a bit that the gym’s been open.

2. Chilled filtered water. And lockers. And showers! Neither the skanky gym or the one I haunted last year offered such luxuries. Hey, they were cheap...

3. Pretty surroundings. The décor is very funky. Bright orange feature segments of backlit Perspex. Wakes you up in the morning, that’s for sure. I'm not too sure about the plastic palm trees though. Hmm.

4. Video channels, ipod sockets and other fancy-schmancy features on the cardio machines that most people probably take for granted. All new to meeee.

5. A big, empty cardio studio – there’s only one day each week that there's a class scheduled for 6:00am, so I’m planning on using the room for some of my cardio workouts, and definitely for posing practice down the track.

6. A BOSU. A foam roller. Umpteen stability balls. More than one medicine ball (and it's not flat). Hurrah for not having to lug my own equipment to the gym!

Plus it's literally 5 minutes away at 6:00am. Love it!

You can't see the awesome orange funk-adelic decor here, but see? Plastic palm trees!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

T-minus 25 and counting

Melbourne Phat Camp 2011 starts on the 14th November and I need to seriously lift my strength and particularly my cardio fitness, or else I AM GOING TO DIE.



There are now three-and-a-half weeks to go and I need to start pushing myself a little harder if I’m going to survive an intense weekend of pop squats, bear crawls and other such killer moves. It’s not that I’ve been slacking off up until now, but I have been aiming to make small progressive improvements, rather than recklessly trying to smash it in the gym from Day 1. A workout along the lines of what I consider “normal” was so daunting a few weeks ago that I’d never have got out of bed if that was in my training plan.

So I began with some easier stuff in Week 1, like brisk incline walking, or trundling along at a moderate pace on the elliptical. In Week 2, I pushed things along a bit with activities like some simple jogging/walking intervals and a dose of Coach Troy (with the resistance dialled way down). Over the past few days I’ve upped the ante again - on Sunday I even threw in one of my crazy cardio sessions, although it was abbreviated. Then I just tacked on some more moderate cardio to get me to my allocated time.

That’s all good progress, but now I need to give things a good shove and pull out some really challenging stuff. I realised as I was finishing my training yesterday morning that there’s an RPM class at my gym at 6:00am on Tuesdays, so that’s on the menu for next week. If the crazy weather will stay fine for more than five minutes, I’ll include some outdoor training as well. Maybe something like this:

Wed - Legs + walk
Thu - Spinervals aero base builder
Fri - Upper body + elliptical (steady state)
Sat - REST
Sun - Outdoor boot camp workout
Mon - Legs + rower intervals
Tue - RPM

If I survive that (kidding!), I’ll execute a similar plan the following week, but turn up the intensity a smidge more.

Come to think of it, even if the weather sucks, I’ll chuck in one of my indoor boot camp workouts. If they’re good enough for my clients….

I don’t expect miracles – my strength can’t possibly be back to its peak in such a short timeframe, and even my cardio fitness is still going to be below par. And I know I’ll have to skip or modify some Phat Camp activities so as not to aggravate my injuries. But I need to be as fit as I possibly can under the circumstances. My self-respect demands it.

I don’t think I’ll be putting myself in the “advanced” group this time around… That’s OK, it’s all about having fun and doing your best, not proving to anyone else how good you (think you) are.

I’m excited and looking forward to my fourth Phat Camp. But just between you and me, I’m almost as terrified as I was the very first time I attended in 2005.

At least the chances of it being as hot as in 2008 (see sweaty pic above) are very, very slim. March. Melbourne. 3 days of 40+ degrees in a giant tin shed with no air con. Brutal!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finishing strong



2010 has sucked in many ways. Not that there have been any major dramas in my life that I can point to and say "See? No wonder I've had such a battle." It's just been the cumulative effect of a whole lot of stressful situations in 2008-09.

Of course, there was the camel's-back-breaking straw of my Dad's death. That tipped me over the edge and turned me into an anxious, miserable mess. But overall, there were just minor annoyances, upsets and disappointments that seemed to keep on coming, non-stop.

This year was supposed to be all about getting back to normal, but it took me until June before the paralysing anxiety lifted completely and I was even able to begin clawing my way back. From June to September was a little bumpy, and progress was a stop-start affair.

But the past three weeks has seen the return of the old me. Finally. Getting up early to train is once again just what I do, instead of an impossible task. Being positive and determined is the order of the day. And happiness and contentment are more frequent residents inside my head than gloom and pessimism.

So 2010, you can BITE ME. Give it your best shot, throw everything you have at me; I don't care. I'm finishing this year out on a high.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Perception

All week my weight's been going up and down by 100g, in spite of sticking to my plans in both the training and nutrition departments. So this morning when I stepped on the scales, it was no surprise to find myself exactly where I was last Monday....or am I?

Mid-week I realised that my work pants were sitting quite loosely on my hips (a nice change from being tight up around my waist and feeling like they're strangling me in several places!). I can see in the mirror that I've leaned out a bit around the waist and my belly is flatter. I've been feeling GREAT and have pushed training up a notch - even though I'm still not at my best in terms of cardio, there's a major improvement on where I was three weeks ago.

So, do I feel as though I've failed? Do I feel fat? Did I kick the scales across the room and go eat a plateful of buttered toast to console myself? Nuh-uh. I'm still feeling good and I'm ready for another great week (in spite of having slept in and missed training this morning. Impromptu rest day, coming up!).

My scales told me that my weight hasn't changed this week. That's all. I took that piece of data and put it together with the evidence of the pants test and my own eyes, plus the sum of what I achieved on the training and nutrition fronts last week. And those things add up to the fact that everything is going exactly as it should, and a loss is on the way.

On with the week. Giddyup!

Friday, October 15, 2010

See what I'm up against?

These are actual comments made to me by colleagues over the past week or so:

My personal trainer says I can't eat carbs if I want to lose weight.

Ugh. I just ate four pieces of cake at morning tea. I'll have to pay for it with extra time on the treadmill tonight. *sigh*

Eek! That yoghurt has three grams of fat in it. I can't eat that. Fat's bad for you.

I've put on half a kilo overnight. I'll have to skip lunch today.

I think I officially give up.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The highest honour

While I was lying awake at 4:15 this morning for no good reason, I took note of some of the ridiculous thoughts, questions and memories that flit through my head. Why do we think such stupid things in the wee hours?

My mind got going on a name theme - don't ask me how I got there - and in the course of its ramblings, I recalled this:

I once had a cow named after me. I wasn't sure whether to be honoured or offended at first. In the end, I decided to take it as a compliment.

What's the most dubious compliment you've ever been paid?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Over the hump



Today's voice-in-my-head was one of the less helpful ones. I was up and on the spin bike nice and early, with Coach Troy bossing encouraging me to give it my best.

But my inner princess was putting on a top performance and telling me it was OK to quit IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIRST SET. Yes, it was hard and no, I wasn't enjoying it one bit. After wavering for just a minute, I told her to shut the hell up and just put my head down and got on with it. That first set was gruelling - both mentally and physically. Bleurgh.

But then a funny thing happened. I was about two minutes into the second set, when I realised I'd found my pace, hit my stride and was actually going to make it through. Thank you, legs and lungs!

There's always that point in a cardio workout where you get "over the hump" so to speak, and from then on you feel like you could go forever. I love that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Voices



I struggled to wake up this morning, but dragged myself out of bed and into the car, feeling tired and fuzzy-headed. I drove right past the entrance to the gym car park and had to do a U-turn at the next intersection, then an illegal right turn to get into the car park from that direction. D'oh!

It was dark and I was grumpy and it was cardio day, but I took a leaf out of Cathy's book and summoned up a smile and a Good morning! for the receptionist. No need to inflict my crankiness on anyone else.

Then I had to decide what to do. Yes, I'm fronting up to the gym with absolutely no plan half the time. LOL. Not my usual control-freak style, I know, but it seems to be working fine so far. As I was warming up on the treadmill, a voice in my head said HIIT, Body-for-LIFE style. I tried to ignore it - that shit is HARD.

But once an idea is planted, it's hard to avoid. So I HIIT it.

I had to talk myself through every set of intervals - as usual, my inner princess wanted to quit halfway through the first one. But I got it done, even if it wasn't my best-ever effort.

Funny thing: I'm wide awake now and not the least bit cranky. :) Sometimes the voices in my head are actually right.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Now, THAT'S annoying



I just discovered something annoying about training at a "normal" gym: the guys hog all the small dumbbells. What's with that? LOL

For years when I first started training, I went to a women-only gym. It was fantastic - virtually all the other members were scared of the free weights, so I had the downstairs weights area all to myself at 6:00am, while everyone else was upstairs on the cardio machines, or maybe doing the rounds of the weights machines.

The gyms I frequented after that were bodybuilding gyms - and no self-respecting guy would be caught dead with a dumbbell under 20kg. So, yay! That left plenty for meeee!

So I was peeved this morning when I wanted to do some dumbbell bench presses, and being cautious, thought I'd start with maybe 5 or 6 kg. There were four blokes in the weights area, each with a pile of DBs at their feet (why do guys DO that?), and the smallest weights left on the rack were 8kg.

Oh well, I took it as a sign and grabbed those babies and just did my thing. And my shoulder feels OK. :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Good intentions

I meant to go for a walk today, I really did. But there was the bamboo screen to stain and seal, a length of merbau to oil, my vintage pot cupboard to finish with wax and paint another coat on the body, a lantern to prime ready for painting, four loads of washing to do, the ironing for the week to tackle ...and I haven't touched the mountain of folding yet.

Since I've accumulated 11,085 steps on my trusty pedometer, and we haven't even had dinner yet, I'm not feeling like a slacker.

If I was insane enough to strap on my shoes and head off down the street, I suspect it would end like this:

Gratuitous food porn

I came across the blog What Katie Ate recently, and I think I'm in love...

I know there are words there, but I can't look away from the photos. Like these:







You're welcome.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Kek 1: Fear 0



I walked into the gym this morning and ran through my leg prehab routine, then wandered out to the weights area to start my workout. I had a sudden urge to try some deadlifts. Could I? Should I? My shoulder and arms may be a little better, but they're hardly up to holding massive weights. Hmm...

The voice in my head said: Bugger it! Give it a go, just keep the weight light.

So I slid a couple of 10kg plates onto the bar. 40kg. Miles off my PB, but given that I haven't tried deadlifts for what must be at least six months, I figured that was probably plenty.

I set the bar on the floor, got into position and realised I was feeling nervous. What if I couldn't lift it? Well, what IF? I asked myself. You won't know till you try. I imagined Liz was standing there next to me, and I knew she'd say: Don't be such a pussy! I braced, breathed in, pushed through my heels, and pulled the bar off the floor without too much effort. I figured six reps was enough. Let's not go crazy. I stood back and thought Holy crap! That was easy.

So I swapped the 10s for 15s and did two more sets with 50kg. No shoulder pain, no issues with grip, and my forearm was OK too.

Some sumo squats, DB walking lunges, single leg glute bridging and my legs were feeling the love. Or feeling something, anyway. LOL.

Getting back into training was surprisingly mentally challenging. My self-image had really taken a beating. I didn't feel like an athlete at ALL. But with every workout I do, I find myself holding my head a little bit higher. Only two weeks in, there's a huge shift in my view of myself. I feel stronger, fitter and more confident already.

My super powers are not far away, I'm sure.

Throwing down the gauntlet

I had a GREAT blog topic all lined up for this weekend, but needed to do some research first. But while I was busy with work revamping vintage furniture and being a top-notch Mum getting my 10,000 steps in, Liz went and stole my thunder.

So stuff it, you can just go read her post.

You know what this means, don't you Lizzie? This means a SHOWDOWN. That's right, I challenge you to a Lindor Ball-chucking contest at dawn.... Hope you're good at ducking!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Yahoo!

Yesterday I had my usual Thursday arvo date with Peter the Physio. But there was something different. As usual, I was greeted grunted at by the surly receptionist, and as usual I sat and read a trashy mag in the waiting room because as usual, I was early. I walked into the torture treatment room and as usual, Peter asked "How are you going?"

Here's where it gets unusual. My normal response is something along these lines:

*sigh* "Yeah, OK....well..." *rolling of eyes* "...you know. I'm kind of...bleurgh. Same-old, same-old."

Yesterday I paused and thought: How am I doing? And the answer was:

"Actually, I'm pretty good. There's definite improvement. I got through to Wednesday afternoon before my right arm bothered me at all, and I haven't taken any pain killers or anti-inflammatories at all. And I even think my neck is a bit less stiff."

It's been a long time coming, but boy, is it welcome.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

You are beautiful...



There's been a trend in recent years to promote self-acceptance, and loving yourself unconditionally. You see gurus discussing it on TV talk shows, there are books galore on the subject, and hundreds (probably thousands) of websites. That's a good thing, right? I mean, loathing yourself for being overweight, for overeating, for "failing" to lead the healthy, fit life you want can't lead anywhere positive.

I totally agree with the premise that we ought to love ourselves with all our imperfections. What I have a problem with is the suggestion that I've been hearing from a number of sources that a desire to change, to improve, is somehow wrong. Specifically, that the wish to lose weight must mean that you don’t like/love yourself. I disagree.

Personally, I have a good grasp of my reasons for wanting to ditch some fat. I don’t like my clothes being tight (breathing is always a good thing in my book). It’s uncomfortable to have rolls of fat squishing together when I bend. I don’t like the feel of everything wobbling around when I run. The extra weight makes it harder to do some of my favourite exercises, because there’s more of me to lift, and dragging those additional kgs around makes me tired. My cholesterol has gone up (WTF?). Menopause symptoms have increased and are driving me nuts. And I understand the ramifications of being overweight (and unfit) when it comes to my future health.

I don’t want to be thinner because I hate myself. I don’t feel ugly - or at least I have no more “fugly days” than usual. I'm quite confident, courtesy of my mirror (and my husband, God love him) that I haven’t descended into ugly old hag-dom. But I am not content to be carrying an extra three five kg. I deserve better. I deserve to have a fit, healthy and fully functional body, and in order to achieve those things, I need to be at my optimal weight.

Wanting to change, to improve yourself, (with improvement being totally subjective and judged by your own standards, of course) isn’t wrong. In itself it doesn’t indicate poor self-esteem. If that were so, then logically, no well-adjusted person should ever strive to achieve any kind of change. If you train to run faster or study to improve your knowledge, does that mean that you don’t like yourself the way you are? I don't think so...

Wanting to be better does not mean that you see yourself as worthless right now. It just means that you know you have the potential for improvement and can see the benefits those improvements will bring.

So, I'm beautiful. But give me a few weeks and I'll be beautiful and faster, stronger and healthier.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The non-miracle not-diet

Diets are bad, right? They mess with your metabolism, screw up your thinking and are generally A Bad Thing. We all know this from the proliferation of blogs, websites, magazine articles and books galore that tell you to give up dieting and just follow your instincts to find the path to true happiness.

So what are you supposed to do when you need/want to lose weight? What’s the opposite of dieting? Eat whatever you want, in any quantities you want, whenever you want? Obviously, that isn’t going to work - simple maths tells us otherwise (or is it physics?) Whatever: energy in vs energy out and all that.

I regularly go on about not being on a diet. But you might be wondering: what does she mean by that? If she’s not on a diet, how is it possible to lose weight? Here’s my take on it….

A diet prescribes certain (unpleasant) rules, such as not being able to eat particular foods at all. Or eating certain foods only at certain times. Or combining (or not combining) certain foods. There are some foods you must eat, even if you hate them, because they are Diet Foods and are Good For You. You must not eat a mouthful more than you’re allowed to. Ever. Nope, not even if you’re starvin’, Marvin. And the diet usually has an end date – that glorious, much-anticipated day when you will reach your goal weight or dress size and be happy.

None of that sounds appealing, does it? Except for the happy ending, which will usually last for only a short time, once the diet rebound effect kicks in.

So how do I approach weight loss? (By the way, if you’re expecting a miracle solution from me, all about having chocolate and champagne for three meals a day and still dropping a dress size before summer, you might want to stop reading now.)

I don’t change the basic way I eat. I choose to eat mostly healthy food because I enjoy it and because I like how it makes me feel. Being sluggish, tired and lacking energy is no fun, and that’s how a regular intake of crappy food affects me. So I follow these principles:

1. I eat regular, small meals because that works for me. It seems to keep me more satisfied than less frequent, larger meals.

2. I eat plenty of veggies. Pretty much always with lunch and dinner, and often with other meals too. I can assure you, spinach goes with everything. ;)

3. I balance my macronutrients. More or less. Plenty of protein keeps me full longer. Ditto for high fibre carbs. And I make sure I get a good quota of fat too, otherwise my skin goes all dry and itchy and my hormones go a bit crazy.

4. I make my meals interesting, and I mostly eat what the family eats – unless they’re having “man food”, like sausages in bread with sauce. Or fried eggs with baked beans. Bleurgh. All that’s usually required to meet my nutritional needs is to slightly modify a recipe, or to have a smaller portion, or maybe to skip the mountain of mashed potato (yuk) that everyone else is having and choose some baked sweet potato instead.

5. I have treats on a regular basis. I won’t settle for any old thing though; it has to be something worthwhile. My weekly or twice-weekly chocolate is always welcome, but I don’t count a spoonful of jam or a slice of sourdough bread as a treat. I just work a few of those things into my normal meals in small amounts.

6. Most evenings, I plan my lunch and snacks for the next day and pack them in containers in the fridge. That saves me time in the mornings, saves me money because I don’t have to spend $9 daily on a sandwich, and makes me a lot less likely to get hungry at work and think “Bugger it, I’m starving. I’m too busy to hunt around the shops for something decent; I’ll just go buy a giant-sized muffin from the café upstairs”.

7. I’m flexible. If my team decides to go out for lunch, I won’t be the one staying back at the office eating out of my Tupperware. I’ll either choose something from the menu that fits my healthy criteria, or decide to have a treat meal. No biggie. Getting stressed out by those sort of situations is just a little bit nuts, you have to be able to go with the flow.

8. Sometimes I track food calories and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I weigh my food, sometimes I don’t. As long as my weight is dropping and my waistband is getting looser, I’m not fussed about those things; I just eyeball my food portions and leave it at that. If things aren’t going the right way though, I call in my extra weapons – the kitchen scales and measuring cups and my calorie tracking program.

9. When I eat, I try to remember to pay attention to my food and to how I feel. Am I still hungry? Do I want more? Have I got to the “full enough” stage yet? Sometimes it’s a small step from I’ve had enough to Ugh. I’ve overeaten. This one took me quite a while to learn…

10. If I’m genuinely stomach-rumblingly hungry and I don’t have a meal planned, I will usually eat something extra. It’s not a crime to eat when you’re hungry. The trick is not to overdo the amount, and not to grab any old rubbish.

That’s about it. There’s nothing earth-shattering in there, but it works. Some people might consider what I’ve described as “a diet”. But given that the only differences between this and the way I generally eat all the time are: a) the amounts of food; and b) the frequency/amounts of treats, I can’t see it that way.

The fact is, to lose weight, you must eat less calories than you expend. There’s no getting away from that. So it’s physically impossible to lose weight without eating less and/or moving more. How you choose to implement the eating less part is up to you, but following a punishing, restrictive diet is not my choice.

By the way, my not-diet is going very well (thanks for asking). I’ve enjoyed chicken mignons, lamb souvlaki, tandoori chicken, Thai beef salad and tonight we’re having tacos… A block of Green & Black’s has been consumed over the past five days too, and the scales tell me I’m going great guns.

Now that’s what I call a not-diet.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Not quite super, but getting there

Training is going well. I don't know what I've been afraid of (or if maybe I was just bored out of my brain at home), but - thank goodness - my legs can still handle a decent workout. I'm using some baby weights, but this morning I managed to rip out some box squats, DB step-ups, Romanian deadlifts, BOSU glute leg raise thingies (NO idea what those are called....) and some Bulgarian split squats. And for the first time in days, this afternoon my lower back is NOT giving me pain. Hmm.

I'm being fairly cautious with my upper body, but I was relieved to discover that I can once again manage lat pulldowns with a supinated grip without any pain in my forearm. That's been a long time coming. Maybe the rest did it some good.

Plus I've been steadily increasing the intensity with cardio. I ran some treadmill intervals yesterday, and pulled up OK. Today I stuck to walking after my leg session. Tomorrow though, I plan an aerobic session with Coach Troy, and I think I'm looking forward to it.

Also...my pedometer is sitting on 10,375 and I still plan a walk after dinner. Traipsing around the shopping strip at lunchtime, sending my work to a distant printer, and taking the long way round to the Ladies' seems to be doing the trick.

I feel like me again. Before I know it, I'll have my super powers back.