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26 to 12 – another weight loss blog

One woman's journey to lose half her body weight

Month

April 2014

Exercise Inspiration AKA I Must Have Gone Mad

I have been inspired by two other bloggers – Sam over at Midsummer 365 Project and Nancy at My Year of Sweat. If you haven’t visited, take a look, they are both amazing women! So, following their example I have decided to set myself a challenge for the new month. For the whole month of May, I will be doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every single day. I already go to the gym or swim 5 days a week, but I think that I need a step up.
I’ve found recently that for some of my workouts, especially when I swim, I’m not seeing a lot of improvement, especially on the cardio side, and I think the reason is complacency (or maybe a touch of boredom!) so I’m going to try some new things, and maybe switch out one of my swim sessions for another gym session – but I’ll talk to my trainer about that. I’m going to do a few things that I used to enjoy but haven’t done in a while, like yoga, pilates and dancing, try some new workouts and, of course, try to fit in more boxing – once a week just isn’t enough!
Switching things up a bit I think can only be a good thing – it keeps things fresh and will help me to exercise different muscle groups. It also eliminates the chance of cheating (yes, I had already worked out that I do 6 workouts over 5 days, so a little rearrangement could make life easier…) so that I will be adding in at least one extra hour of exercise every week. I also promise that I will blog a record of it, just to make really really sure that I’m not tempted to cheat, skip, etc etc.
I definitely have the exercise bug, but I’m still approaching this with a certain amount of trepidation. Wish me luck (I will need it), for tomorrow I embark on May Madness!
See exercise as your daily ritual

Is It For Swimming or Posing?

On Thursday morning I bought a lnew swimming costume.  Had I been slightly more organised, I might have noticed sooner that my old one was disintegrating rapidly and ordered a new one from eBay.  I am not that organised.  So I ran into Tesco at a stupid hour of the morning to get a new (and preferably cheap) one. 

jo439027This is what I ended up with, for the bargain price of £12!  Looks nice, doesn’t it?  What a shame, then, that the creator of this swimming costume didn’t design it in a way that anyone could actually wear it and swim successfully. 
Now, in fairness, I am a little (lot) on the pear-shaped side, but I am fairly sure that I’m not alone in that!  I’m in no way flat-chested, but the foam pads were excessively large and shaped in a way that I managed to look like a Baywatch extra – especially as the V-neck is substantially deeper than in appears (noticeably below the bottom of my cleavage – such as it is).  This design meant that every time I propelled myself forward in the swimming pool, the top half of the costume filled with water and I had to adjust it at the end of every length to avoid accidentally flashing the elderly early-morning swimmers!  Interestingly, the Tesco website claims that the pads are removable, but 6 o’clock this morning saw me cutting the mesh out to remove the pads – large foam pads are not removable through teeny tiny gaps – and sewing the neckline to a more demure one.
As a larger lady, I do struggle to find low-cost swimming costumes in my size – my best option is usually supermarkets in summertime or buying online.  (I do also have the same problem with sportswear – apparently only UK size 18 and below require workout clothes… not encouraging those of us who need to to exercise I think, but I digress.)  I have had this problem before – the majority of swimming costumes sold in supermarkets or high street stores do not seem to be designed for anyone to swim in, only for looking good.  Surely, surely it cannot be that difficult to design one that is both flattering and functional?  In fact, I’m not too bothered if it’s flattering as long as it fits, it works and it’s not too expensive.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Thank you for reading my rant!
Thank you for reading my rant!

How Many a Day??

So we all know that we’re supposed to aim to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day – or do we? According to reports on a recent study, it seems that we should be eating seven or even ten!

Now, whilst I agree that eating more fruit and vegetables is a good thing, the conclusions that these articles have reached seem to me to be a little over the top. Huge numbers of Britons are already struggling to reach the recommended 5 a day (which, it should be remembered, is a minimum guideline.) Rather than raising the benchmark even higher, to a number which will seem unattainable to many, I believe the focus should be on guiding and helping people just to increase their intake of fruit and veg. Teaching people how to include fruit and veg in their diet, and in particular about seasonal fruit – as many cite expense as a major reason why they do not eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables.

I do genuinely believe that the details of the 5 a day guideline have not been made properly available. For example, I used to work with a lady who was very keen to start eating her 5 portions daily. One day she said to me “How do manage to fit your 5 a day in? I just can’t manage to eat all that extra food!” Yes, she was trying to add the five portions into her diet without removing anything. I can understand how that could happen though – I have read the 5 a day page on the NHS website a few times, and I actually cannot see anywhere where it explains that the extra fruit and/or vegetables are intended to replace less healthy foods. The other thing that is rarely mentioned is about the colours of the foods that we pick – ideally our 5 (or 7 or 10) a day should be made up of different coloured foods, to ensure a good range of vitamins is included. With that in mind, I made “seven speed curry” for my dinner. Seven Speed Curry I used foods that SW call speed foods – slow release, filling foods, which all also happen to fit into the government’s guidelines of vegetables which are acceptable, and I made sure that I used a lot of different coloured veg – red onion, tomatoes, yellow peppers, spinach, red (orange) lentils, mushrooms and aubergine. For extra health points I ate it with brown rice, and I have to say it was really good, and very filling!

There are a few issues with the study, mostly outlined in the article on the NHS website The main thing I see as an issue may just be me being pedantic, but I have seen numerous assurances in these articles that eating more fruit and vegetables lowers the risk of death. Death is inevitable. I’m sure that they really mean that it lowers the risk of premature death, or perhaps that it lowers the risk of deaths from certain illnesses, but the phrasing definitely needs to be altered in my opinion! The study also takes only a snapshot or each participant’s life – the food intake on the previous day. Circumstances change daily, and I think that more reliable results could have been obtained by use of a week of even two-week food diary. Finally, although the study attempts to take certain confounders into account, I believe that it is very difficult to take everything into account – and would definitely put forward the theory that people who regularly ensure they eat plenty fruit and vegetables will also eat healthily in other ways, and may well also exercise regularly, drink and smoke less and avoid other harmful substances.

So yes, I think that the study is interesting, and I do think that people should be eating more fruit and vegetables in general. But, I feel that the articles from the BBC and the Telegraph are almost scaremongering, and could do more harm than good.

chickenapple

Trying Something New and Fulfilling a Dream

As I think I said in yesterday’s post, I have recently taken up a new sport, and I absolutely love it!  For years I have wanted to learn some kind of combat sport, and I have looked at various martial arts etc but never chosen anything to try… until now!  Some time ago, I asked my PT if I could do a little bit of boxing in our sessions, and after the first couple I had enjoyed it so much that he started using it as the reward at the end of my sessions.  I asked him, then, if he could recommend somewhere I could go to learn “proper” boxing (as opposed to the energetic, technique-free punching I do in PT sessions).  The place that he recommended is, in a strange coincidence, a gym that rents its premises from the company I work for – so I can go straight from work.  I have had three sessions so far, and I can already feel an improvement in both my technique and my fitness.  I also think it is helpful with the psychological and emotional problems I’ve been having recently – enabling me to get the frustration out rather than internalising it as I usually do (which is definitely harmful.)

The first two sessions were mostly focussed on technique – I learnt different types of punches, correct stance and the all-important defence!  The trainer, Richard, was also horrified to learn that I knew only a tiny amount of self-defence, so he insisted on throwing some of that into the mix as well.  He is a great teacher, I think he went easy on me for the first couple of sessions though!  He seems pleased with my progress, even if he spends a lot of time shouting at me to keep my hands up, and I am definitely pleased with how I’m going.  My session last week, as I’d learnt the basic combinations, consisted of practising the combinations again, followed by 5 two-minute “rounds” with the punchbag, with one-minute breaks.  I know, I know: that doesn’t sound like much, but believe me it was very high intensity!  Sorry to share this gross fact with you, but I was absolutely soaked with sweat by the end of the session.  I truly enjoyed it though, finally I have found another sport that I can practise alone and that I love as much as swimming!

There are a couple of things I want to mention, just because they are a really big deal for me – even though they might sound silly to most!  They are basically things that I don’t care about when I’m boxing – probably because I feel so focussed when I do it.  Firstly, I’m boxing at what I would (in a very sexist way I know – sorry) call a “man gym”, by which I mean there are very few cardio-type machines – in fact I think there may only be treadmills, bikes and rowers – and a LOT of weights, and it is usually filled with very muscular men of all ages; normally I’d find this kind of atmosphere quite intimidating in the beginning, but I can genuinely say that I really didn’t bother me.  I also didn’t notice, until it was pointed out to me, that people have been watching my sessions.  Usually I’m very self-conscious, especially in the gym, but I think that I have been concentrating so hard on improving that I never realised that people were looking.  And finally, when I do most workouts, it often bothers me when I start to get out of breath/heart racing/sweating, but with boxing, all I feel is a sense of pride that I’m working so hard – and that it’s paying off!

My next session is tomorrow, and Richard has threatened me with “conditioning”; I’m not sure exactly what he means by that but I’m fairly sure it’s going to involve weights!  I hope that I will still get to put the gloves on, but either way I can’t wait!

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Starting Again, Again!

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in quite a while, I think maybe 2 or 2 1/2 months.  I’ve had a lot going on, I was going to do a full post to explain it but I’m not really ready for that yet.  Enough to say that I’ve had a lot of emotional problems, particular with my depression rearing its ugly head, and a huge number of relationship problems which are not fully resolved yet.  I may or may not post about those later, when I have figured everything out fully.

So with all that going on, I haven’t really been focussed on my health, and in particular my weight loss.  My weight has yoyo-ed a lot over the last few months, and at my last weigh-in on Wednesday, I weighed 20st4lb.  I had a 4.5lb loss that week, and finally finally started to feel like I was getting back in control of my eating.  Recently, I have had a lot of times where I haven’t felt hungry and so haven’t bothered eating (unusual for me) and conversely a few binges (very typical of me when I am having problems.)  I am, however, proud of the fact that I have carried on going to Slimming World meetings, even when I haven’t been following the plan.  I think that that has helped me to get back on track much more easily than I would have done if I’d stopped altogether.

I have also been going to the gym and swimming, mostly as regularly as ever.  I’ve had a few more PT sessions, which I’m really starting to enjoy – and feel a difference in my fitness levels!  As well as that, I’ve started a new sport – I’m not going to talk about it here as I think it’s a topic that deserves its own post – but I absolutely love it, even though it exhausts me!

This week then, I am trying to keep on track – I don’t expect as big a loss as last week, but I’d love to lose 3.5lb, as that would take me back to a 2 stone total loss.  I’m working on various ways to keep my focus, and trying to remind myself every time I falter that I’m doing this for a reason.  It’s not just about how I look (although I’d love to look a particular way) or about my health (even though there are many many health reasons for me to do this), but about an entire lifestyle.  I am making positive changes to my whole way of life, and visualising the end result is what keeps me on track, at least at the moment.

Starting Over

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