Friday, 3 April 2015

Mirror vs Motivation

People will generally move 'away from' pain or 'towards' a goal when they want to make a change in their lives. Do you think about how fit you're going to feel or look, or think about how you don't like your level of fitness and shape. Do you keep a picture of a healthier version of yourself, or currently exercise in front of the mirror!

A combination of both generally keep me going working towards the future I envisage for myself. Being healthy is one of those goals and visions. Diabetes is rife in my family, type 1 and 2 and I don't wanna go down that road.

Despite the initial thoughts following the photo shoot a couple of weeks ago and my 90 Day SSS plan photos, there was still a niggling doubt about sharing my photos. The doubt stems from a fear of receiving criticism or harsh comments, or laughter, or being judged as so many women and men are today. Posting these photos makes me feel vulnerable and believe me this is not about looking for the sympathy vote, or needing my ego stroked. This is about me loving my body regardless of the fact it doesn't fit the stereotype of what is perceived attractive by the media and others. So here goes!

Cycle Two was tough! But that was mainly because of 'life' and all the days when stuff happens and being organised and together doesn't happen. I'm sure there are people whose lives are pretty much always together and organised and believe me that is exactly where I want to be. Everything in it's place, everything planned to run like clockwork so that everything that needs to be done can be done and all is calm. But sometimes life just isn't like that.

You don't want to read a list about the shit that life threw at me to knock me off kilter because then that would be a 'poor me' story and how it was hard to stick to plan. Enter BIG YAWN. Shit happens, get up, brush yourself down and get back on the proverbial horse.  Who wants to be a victim of our own making? Not me. Always looking for ways to do it better, be better, get over the hurdles. Don't get me wrong, there are times when wallowing and feeling sorry for myself happen and I work hard to drag myself out of that hole but it's not always easy.

Embedded image permalinkOne major struggle was breakfast on a non carb day. I'm not a 'breakfast when I get up' kinda gal, the thought of Quorn or fish and vegetables for breakfast really got my gag reflex going. Eventually I came up with Omelet/Breakfast muffins! Simple, and really yummy. Fry mushrooms and onions in coconut oil of course, then add chopped up smoked salmon to beaten eggs and mix the whole lot together. Put into muffin tins, throw in the oven until cooked and voila. To be fair they are better warm but great to take to work and eat at my desk with some added vegetables.

Quorn Red Thai curry became a great meal to cook as batches could easily be made up for a few meals as did a cajun Quorn mix, both really easy to have with with or without carbs.

Planning, or Lack Of
One of my failings on this Cycle was my lack of planning. For Cycle One there was a whole Excel spreadsheet (boring alert) detailing what meals, snacks and what days HIIT would happen, even down to organising the first couple of shopping lists. Time and dedication was spent and it paid off.

Feeling all 'Rocky'
With the introduction of weights I needed to buy some kit, and now there is a bench press in my study, which I kinda love and makes me feel all Rocky. Sorry for the ear worm. Getting to grips with what weights to lift took some time to work out and am slightly nervous of pushing it too far. What if the weights are too heavy when doing a skull crusher, who's going to hear my screams if I drop it on my head, or I drop the dumbbell on my chest and can't move. Safe to say this hasn't happened (yet) but this doesn't mean that I didn't push myself.

Some days were right off plan but results after Cycle Two were no changes in inches up or down. I do actually feel stronger and leaner and my bingo wings are becoming less wing like. I'm not put off at all and have no intention of resorting to my old eating patterns regardless of the days I've not stuck to it. My health and well being are still going to be a priority, just sometimes 'life happens' and gets in the way.

Cycle Three
Arrived on Wednesday evening, perfect timing to do some serious planning, and I can't wait. This whole journey is about having more energy, being able to live a long healthy life, being able to go horse riding in Montana, scuba diving in the Maldives, dancing all night long, laughing with friends, hanging out with loved ones, exploring the world, run a marathon....

My body is very unlikely to grace catwalks or magazine covers but it is likely to serve me well if I look after it, confront my fears and fill it with love.

So getting my kit off with a whole bunch of brave fearless women a couple of weeks ago has hit the press. Here's the article to accompany the picture of these fearless women Here's to loving what the mirror shows me, being brave, fearless and motivated regardless of what the world thinks. Mwah. xxx

Monday, 16 March 2015

Monday Morning Craziness

Monday mornings can often be accompanied by the blues, but not this Monday. This Monday was all about bravery among women.

Blogging about running (knee still not right) or following the 90 Day - Shift, Shape and Sustain plan the future goal has always been to feel healthier, feel stronger, have more energy and ultimately to look better, to be more attractive. Or what society/the media lead me to believe is attractive. Or so I thought.

As a society we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, be it someone else's wealth, their looks, their husband, career, personality, hair - OMG the list is endless and this constant measuring ourselves against others is exhausting.

Sometimes we can be delaying when we'll allow ourselves to be happy....I'll be happy when I've lost a stone, bought that car, got that job, earn that much money. And all the time that we are chasing this ideal we are delaying real joy in our lives. Those moments that we look back on and they still make us giggle, or give us a warm glow in our hearts, memories to be treasured.

Doing the 90 Day SSS Plan Cycle One
I pretty much stuck to it, loads of food, short bursts of exercise and I felt great, and got great results, 6.5 inches lost all in all. I was all set for Cycle Two, my newly acquired bench press all set up in my study. Lean woman here I come and then life threw me a curve ball and knocked me on my ass. The sudden death of  a very loved friend literally knocked me off my feet. And all the old coping mechanisms returned, crap comfort food and wine.

Starting Cycle Two
Eventually I started to get back into the swing of things, eating better and exercising more. Although the last month or so has been full of social events with friends, family and work and it isn't always easy or appropriate to eat following a healthy eating plan to the letter.

And still there is the nagging, that you're not doing the plan properly, that you should just give up. Or the whiny teenager voice, 'it's too hard'. That's the one I despise the most btw.

Getting My Kit Off
And today I got my kit off, not completely but with a fantastic group of women who also wanted to get it off, all for very different reasons I'm sure. A photo shoot of women of all ages shapes and sizes, in swimwear and underwear. Yes on a Monday morning. And yes we must all be crazy.

First shoot was in swimwear. We all emerged from our dressing gowns somewhat nervous, shy or excited and slowly but surely 'got into the groove'. Catherine Skinner (our photographer) was bloody awesome at putting us all at ease and forcing our inner goddesses out regardless of how we felt we looked. More hips, more attitude, more S shape.....and more fun and laughter ensued.  We did dark underwear and light underwear (more bubblegum grey for some of us), with camisoles and without and at the end we got dressed back into our 'civilian' clothes and had another photo. The morning was awesome with some thoroughly beautiful women and I mean from the inside out. There was only one fly in the ointment for me.

My Inner Critic
I had a quick look at some of the photos that morning, in between changing my undies, and my heart sank. That self critical voice that pops up occasionally was loud and clear, 'you look disgusting'.

And it kinda breaks my heart a little as I know for sure that I'm not the only woman that thinks this way about themselves. I've had many a client sat in front of me that provide the most hideous descriptions of self loathing.

It's time to change the way we talk to ourselves, to love and nurture ourselves and above all be kind to ourselves because we are all beautiful. Helen and Louise from Discovering Diamonds arranged the shoot today to do just that, to show how wonderfully beautiful we all are whatever our bloody shape or size.

The little f**ker who critiques me, well, he'll be getting his imaginary gob, covered with imaginary duct tape and his ass will be well and truly kicked into touch.

Being Happy
And those days that I'm meeting friends and collecting memories I'll enjoy myself and have fun and not obsess over what I'm eating. I'll enjoy that my body is healthy and has the capacity for love, laughter, hugs, empathy, all those wonderful emotions that being human gives us. And I'll look after it and fuel it right and build my muscles and get strong as there is so much more still to do in life I choose to make sure my body can get me there, but I'm not going to obsess about the way it looks on the journey, just take as much care of it as possible.  Thinking about fueling my body for all the new and exciting experiences I still want to have is a far greater incentive that just looking thin, or as I believe society thinks I should look. Bring on a healthy body, heart and mind and quit with the comparisons.

To all those women with a harsh critical voice, duct tape the motherf**ker, and tell it to shut the F up! You are ALL BEAUTIFUL. xxx

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Ring - 2002 American Psychological Horror

I love a good horror. There aren't many that'll have me hiding behind my hands but The Ring was one of the very few that did.  The story is based around a cursed video tape. After the 'cursed tape' has been watched a phone call is received by the unlucky recipient, upon answering hear a child's voice rasping 'Seven Days'. They then have an untimely demise seven days later.

I'm Still Alive
Seven day into 90DaySSS and I'd done it, a whole week, four High Intensity Interval Training sessions, following all recipes provided in my personalised plan.

It wasn't a breeze and required some effort in a number of areas.

I do love cooking but usually cook after I've been enticed by alluring food images from Pinterest, or my fav vegetarian magazine. This way of cooking was entirely different, no images, just a burning desire for a healthier stronger future and putting my trust in a stranger with a wealth of testimonials and photos showing excellent results. The first weekend I'd cooked loads, ate loads and prepared loads. The first full week back at the office, still lots of work to finish in the house and a whole lot of cooking to do! Then away at the weekend assisting on the Hypnotherapy Diploma training course, still managed to prepare and stick to all meals (smug face) and that was with guests staying over, and friends who brought some Champers. I stuck to tonic, no vodka or gin.

What I Loved
Stuffed Peppers - really easy and straightforward to prepare, tasty and the ingredients are easy to get hold of. Easy to make two lots, so lunch is ready for the next day too. This will be a firm favourite in the weeks to come.

Go Go Green Smoothie - great, easy to take to work for breakfast, tasty (must get a proper blender though), green. Great until I added the powdered Wheatgrass. I'm not entirely sure whether powdered is the way to go, or fresh. The powdered stuff I ordered from the internet, god only knows where you'd get the fresh stuff? Anyway my lovely smoothie turned to pond, and tasted like pond and it was relegated to the bin, insert unsmiley face. Wheatgrass won't be featuring again in any of my food. Sorry Wheatgrass lovers. Please note: I do not know what 'Pond' tastes like but if I were to hazard a guess it would taste like Wheatgrass.

Salmon Fish Cakes - great and super easy to make, although mine sometimes turned into a kinda Salmon hash, fab with avocadoes and cottage cheese and another one easy to whip up for lunch the next day.

Mostly with the quantity of food I was eating, and believe me this isn't usually an area I have a problem with. There was just sooo much. One day I skipped a whole meal as I thought I might be sick but that was the only one and re-thought my food plan to swap things around a bit. Quorn is easy and quick to cook, but really filling. So have started to have one fish, one Quorn in a day rather than two Quorn meals.

Not the alcoholic variety, only two Vodka and slimline tonics since New Year's Day and I haven't missed it at all. But the sheer volume of water to drink. It's an area that requires more concerted effort. But habits are changing slowly, no coffee until I reach the office (I usually would have consumed two large buckets of coffee) and an Earl Grey in the afternoon, oops. But that's way, way better from my previous caffeine habit.

HIIT Sessions
When I first watched the YouTube video of the HIIT sessions I could see Joe was getting puffed out and thought, 'how hard can it be'? Well it appears quite hard indeed. I swear each 30 second stint is at least 30 minutes....but I continue with the self talk, 'that it's only 30 seconds', 'would I prefer to sit on the sofa and stay the same size and fitness level', 'would I feel good about myself if I avoided the HIIT session. The answer is always a resounding NO. NO I wouldn't, not for all the tea in China.

Not just seven days later, but 16 days later and I've survived, no expiration date after seven days. In fact feeling more alive, happy and energised than I have in a long time.

Starting 90DaySSS when I have 12 working days without a break, decorating to finish in the house, and getting back to work after the Christmas break might have been crazy. But succeeding in spite of the other challenges my belief that I can achieve the results that have alluded me for the majority of my adult life appear to be within my grasp.

I love seeing how well everyone else is doing, you are all such an inspiration to keep on working at this new lifestyle.

Here's to the next 'seven days'!

Sunday, 4 January 2015


Post Christmas Rush for Fitness
The post Christmas rush of exercise programmes and diet plans has been embarked upon in earnest by a huge percentage of the population and I have become one of them. In my defence I've been on a quest to find an alternative exercise to running and healthy way of eating for a good few months.

Since my knee informed me it wasn't happy with running I figured it was best to quit before I buggered it up beyond repair. A long wait to see physios, lots of exercises and my knee didn't seem to be improving, in fact it seemed to be getting worse. So plan B would have to happen, but what?

Buoyancy and that Sinking Feeling
I wasn't running, had moved to a vegetarian diet (have since moved to pescartarian). A combination of more pastry, no running and my clothes were getting tighter. This inactivity also affected my mood. I was surprisingly low and it had crept up slowly. I'm pretty busy most of the time, with a full time day job, and a hypnotherapy practice which I love, fabulous friends and family and yet this black feeling kept spreading. Running had been a much bigger influence in my life than I'd really given it credit for and had not only built up my fitness, it'd provided a wide social network of friends, and the endorphins from running had kept me fabulously buoyant.

Searching for the Holy Grail
In my quest for alternative fitness routes weight training appeared to coming out pretty high. Hopefully I could build up the other muscle groups that would get me running again making my knee stable with a bonus of getting leaner. I've never been one for fad diets as I'm very well aware they are nonsense and that the majority of people will just increase in weight and size when they stop so didn't want to do that. I know nuts are good for you, but they are full of fat, same goes for avocados. Fruit is good for you but full of sugar. I know to cut out the processed stuff all that stuff that has me reaching for just one more, and then perhaps another and....but even so can be confusing.

The Body Coach
A friend of mine lost a lot of weight recently pointed me in the direction of The Body Coach on Facebook and Twitter, so I decided to follow him and check out his website. It made sense to me and his Lean in 15 meals looked great and seemed to be in line with the kinda stuff I was reading about and made sense. So I took the plunge and signed up for the 90DaySSS plan. Eek.

Spreadsheet heaven took over as careful meal planning filled the boxes for each day, taking plenty of time to plan the meals, around my job, around the other commitments I had. To ensure that I could achieve following the plan with minimal aggravation, the meal spreadsheet was born! I'd already watched the beginners HIIT on Beginners High Intensity Interval Training and thought 'I could do that'.

D-Day was Saturday 3rd January. Supplements were ready, food was ready, my gym kit (yes I even put out a gym kit to do the HIIT at home) was ready... I was ready to rock n roll.

Twenty minutes later and my first HIIT was done. Puffed out and red in the face with the vague feeling that I might, just might hurt a little bit later.

My first meal was the Protein Refuel pancake which was the equivalent of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. It was enormous! And oh so filling, I couldn't eat it all but tasted good. Easy to prepare and quick to cook but I think these are probably better cooked as smaller pancakes rather than one giant one!

Lunch was the Feta Omelet, again massive and I couldn't eat it all but again tasted good. I was out for the afternoon and took my portion of nuts for my mid afternoon snack, I figured eating a boiled egg in the cinema might be frowned upon. And when home I cooked the Cashew curry which was also yummy, takes a bit more prep but worth it and I now have three more portions in the freezer.

Today was another HIIT session  and even though I was walking like Bambi on Ice and the lure of bed was distinctly more appealing I thought about the end result. Which would be running again and perhaps going somewhere exotic on holiday at the end of the year and feeling confident and fabulous in swimwear. Thailand here I come.

Breakfast was a Refuel bagel, easy to put together, lunch I've just made Cajun Quorn which was really, really easy to make, and tastes great. Again loads of it. Also made enough for four so another three portions in the freezer.

Tonight I'm going to make the Salmon Fishcakes and make enough for tomorrow evening too.

There is so much food I can't help but think the portion sizes must be wrong but I have to trust Joe.

This weekend has been relatively easy. But I have habits of a lifetime to change and when the stress is on is when my motivation and drive to succeed on this plan is going to be tested the most. Planning in advance and cooking plenty of the easy meals that can be frozen is going to key. Along with support from friends and family and the dream of a confident holiday in the sun, and hitting the open road.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Hit by an aberration of my mind

We all do many, many crazy things in our lives, some we regret, some we are proud of and some we may just wonder 'what on earth was I thinking'.

My personal training sessions have continued and my whole running style has improved. Whether that translates when I'm out without a personal trainer is another story. How would I know? I can't watch myself run, I have yet to master astral projection.  But my balance has improved and the strength in my glutes has improved which will all help to make me a better runner.  

A couple of Sundays ago with my running chums we headed out into the New Forest for a little 10.5k run. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining, it felt fantastic to be out in the sunshine, in the fresh air. Ran past a few ponies, dodged falling in quagmires of mud and generally had a bloody nice time.

A mid week Personal Training session, hard as ever, with reps that have me grimacing in toe stubbing pain until I've finished the set, was finished off with with a bit of measuring and weighing. And here was a bit of disappointment. No change on the waistline and the weight had even crept up a bit. Whaaat, all this hard work and I don't already have a model figure?

The thing is working towards a leaner, less wobbly, more efficient physique is mostly about what I eat. And I do know that. I also love to cook, and 99% of the time love the taste of what I cook and so like to have more. And I suspect I probably eat one too many biscuits than I think I do. I don't eat loads of processed food and have pretty much cut out booze.

So I know that the food side has to change, I'm pretty clued up I think but I always need a plan. Life is extremely hectic and will increase in it's hecticness so preparation is the key. Welcome the Excel spreadsheet. Taa Daa. A four week meal planner is what I need. No diets, I'll never follow one of those, it has to be yummy stuff that I'll have time to cook and have done enough research to know that it's good for me, with the recipes on different tabs and perhaps even a shopping list. Yes you might think it's anal but I really have to be prepared to do these things properly and make lifelong changes. It's in progress, only started at the weekend and I've a way to go yet but getting there. And one thing that will no longer be on my shopping list is mature cheddar, I could pick and pick and pick at mature Cheddar, which is probably one of those secret eating habits that has to change. Moderation is the key.

So life is changing for the better. And then there was yesterdays run.

Just wasn't feelin it. Nope, nadder, zilch. It was warm (nothing compared to the training in last Summers heatwave) and I felt like I was running through glue with iron trainers on. WTF. It wasn't just me, the girls weren't feeling it either and I suspect if we were all feeling it, or not as the case may be, we rubbed on each other psychologically and the whole run was awful. We did about 7k, nothing really by our usual standards and stopped for a rest about every 2k. WHAT! I was ready to chuck my trainers in the bin after that, throw away my medals. Properly felt like the petulant child throwing my toys out of the pram or a raging harridan. I really didn't want to do this running keep fit lark anymore.

And so, of course when one has had enough of doing something, the very thing you must absolutely do is give yourself a bloody enormous challenge. It was one of those 'what was I thinking' moments.

So this morning, in a moment of madness I entered the ballot for the London Marathon. Well that seems sensible after barely being able to run 4 miles yesterday. 26.2 miles bloody hell.

And so in my personal training session this evening with Alex I honestly thought he was trying to kill me. Are personal trainers secret millionaires? Life insurance policies taken out on their unsuspecting clients, pushing them to the brink where the body just gives up? More cardio work until I thought I couldn't breath, with a face the colour of raspberries. But even though it's bloody hard, and it hurts (only in the sense of my muscles working hard) it still feels good.

So I have promised to do an interval training session before my next PT session on Friday and keep a diary of everything I eat. And in a years time I'll be ready to run my first marathon....apparently.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Jelly on a Plate, Jelly on a Plate, Wibble Wobble, Jelly on a Plate

Is exactly how I felt after my personal training session with Dave on Sunday. It's been over week since the Eastleigh 10k, with no exercise until Sunday, eating out loads in the last week catching up with friends. Stress eating at work, those chocolate covered malted milk biscuits...I'm sure they're laced with Cocaine

But back to the Eastleigh 10k. I ran it last year and I've not been shy about being a slow runner, I just keep on going and going a bit like a Duracell bunny So this year I wanted to do better than last year and set myself a goal of 1 hour 15 mins. Four sessions in and my stability has improved, my core strength has improved and even my wildly swinging right leg is starting to look like it actual belongs to me.

On the Friday before the race in my PT session I ran on a treadmill at a pace that would get me in at 1:15, it was a pace that I felt comfortable doing without feeling that I'd keel, turn a shade of purple or throw up at the end trying to achieve it.

Race day, feeling confident, well rested, no booze the night before and ready to run with the girls. Once there I practised my running drills (much to the girls amusement). And so we positioned ourselves in the 'It's going to take you a while' position, waiting for the klaxon to go. 10am and off it went, it took us a while to cross the start line and I got into my groove. Now I like to run with people but I also like to run quietly engrossed in my thoughts. I like to concentrate and now think about how my feet are landing (following my running drills, I am learning) and what my posture is like, and focus on my pace. The k's kept increasing, the distance decreasing, and eventually on reaching about 8k I started to flag. Focusing on my posture, and pace and knowing that it wasn't far to go, I dug deep and  just kept on pushing through.

My time was 1:15:32 which was 2 mins and 6 secs better than last year. I know that I've been running a lot in that time but this was a tangible improvement. My aim is to knock 20 mins off my half marathon time which is huge. But now I'm training in a different way, building muscle groups to make me stronger, pushing myself to run faster for shorter bursts and so now I'm excited again, got my mojo back about improving my running times, fitness and figure. And fantastically have already knocked just shy of half an inch off my waist in just four PT sessions :-)

And so I have some very quiet weeks ahead, by quiet I mean, just two nights out which I must confess to being quite excited about. So in this next three weeks my plan includes two personal training sessions a week, and some extra stuff at home, not entirely sure what just yet. But excited

And as 70% of weight is down to diet I'll be looking at that too. I pretty much understand about eating well, it's just my leaning towards all things sweet or cheesy have a certain hold over me, so I'll be practising some self hypnosis to help me combat that. Malted milk biscuits, you can do one, and I can kiss goodbye to the Wibble Wobble on my tummy!

Apologies in advance for the link, if you listen through to the end and you'll be stuck with 'Sausage in a pan, sausage in a pan, sizzle sozzle, sizzle sozzle, sausage in a pan' in your head.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Coming out of HIbernation

Like a bear crawling out of a dark cave the motivation and determination that saw me through The Great South in October 2012 and the Bournemouth Half Marathon in October 2013 was slowly making a reappearance but at a snails pace.

The dark nights, seemingly endless rain, the 'after Christmas' lull all resulted in a sort of resentment to get back out there and really get back into running. The always present lure of the sofa, or glass of red wine...or two, working it's magic, keeping me safely inside.

Now don't get me wrong I didn't hang up my running shoes completely. Regular 10k's with my running buddies, the occasional park run all happened but I was feeling like the sluggish bear who'd just woken up. And my running wasn't improving. I wasn't getting the after glow and high that I used to get.

I just wasn't feeling it.

And I wanted that old  feeling back.

Something had to change, my attitude, thought processes and effort, I had races to run and PB's to get.

When I had my running trainers fitted last year I was informed that my glutes and core were weak. So I knew that these bad boys needed some work.

More help was definitely required.

And up on Facebook popped Brightside Personal Training, offering a free running ebook which I read but hadn't the motivation or confidence to actually do them. Then there was the offer for a free running assessment. OK, no running away from it (no pun intended), time to book that appointment, check out the cash flow and get a move on (sorry).

Assessment day arrived and there were no surprises. I was stronger on one side, and my glutes and core needed some work. Alex Yates put me through my paces, and taught me some running exercises that had immediate effects on my running style, and I mean in that 40 minute session. I was impressed and knew this was worth investing in to kick start my fitness again. And so it began, three sessions in and another nine booked and a promise of an inch off my waist what have a I got to lose.

I already feel leaner and stronger, which considering the amount of hours I've run is bloody amazing, although the pain in my glutes has occasionally felt like I've had red hot pokers stuck in them!

On Sunday I have my first race of the year, the Eastliegh 10k and following my session with Dave Car this evening I'm hoping to get a PB.

So the bear is fully out of hibernation and Spring has sprung and a new level of fitness and running PB is looking ominous.