26 to 12 – another weight loss blog

One woman's journey to lose half her body weight


May 2014

Me and My PT: A Conversation in Confusion

Me: Phil, when I’m using the weight machines, should I be upping the reps or the kilos?
PT: Pounds
Me: (looks blank)
PT: They’re in pounds not kilos
Me: But… Simon told me they were kilos
PT: Why would you listen to Simon?
Me: He’s the manager…

Yes, lovely readers I’m afraid I have been inadvertently lying to you.  Turns out the weight machines in the ladies gym are in pounds, whilst the dumbbells are in kilos, and the weight machines in the mixed area are also in kilos, but there are two set of dumbbells down there, one in pounds and one in kilos.  Confused yet?  I am, and apparently so was the gym bod who advised me!  And wow, don’t I feel dumb for not checking?!


May Madness: Day 24-26 – Boots, Ponies and Canals

Having fallen in love with walking again over the last few weeks (which I haven’t done a huge amount of since my teens), I decided to bite the bullet on Friday and invest in some new walking boots. My trainers were troubled by our trip through the tunnel last week, they usually only go to the gym! I got a pair of waterproof boots for the bargain price of £23, remembered to buy hiking socks to go with them, and got excited about being able to go walking all through the long weekend.

At which point the heavens promptly opened.

Now, I have no issue with walking in the rain. I’d prefer it to not rain, but I don’t mind it too much. HOWEVER, I don’t actually own a coat, let alone a waterproof (I refused to buy new ones for one winter’s use, since I plan not to be the same size next winter.) The weather forecast predicted an improvement throughout the weekend. So on Saturday we waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually the rain stopped and we set off for a walk. Unfortunately by this point it was 11pm, so we didn’t walk very far – about 1.5 miles – but we made sure to get some decent hills in! Coming in at 35 minutes, that was day 24/31 complete.

Sunday was much better, so we went for a walk through the local nature reserve, which is much bigger than I had realised! There are hills, grassland, woods and a marsh; it really is beautiful there. It is also a site for wild grazing for 4 Exmoor ponies from May to July. Little known fact: I’m afraid of horses. I kind of like them from a distance or in photographic form, but up close they are quite frightening! But I got past my fear (and the horse on the path) and up to the top of a hill, where we got some beautiful views, then we explored the woods before looping back home along the canal (via the pub!) The whole walk was about 4.5 miles and took us about 1.5 hours (excluding breaks!) which I was happy with since the going was a little tougher than I’m used to! That was day 25/31 complete.

This doesn't exactly show them at their most scary...
This doesn’t exactly show them at their most scary…
The church is the highest point in the area
The church is the highest point in the area
Buttercups!  The view from the top of the hill.
Buttercups! The view from the top of the hill.
Reed marsh
Reed marsh
































Bank holiday Monday happened, and there was sun! When we’d got over the shock, we got our boots on and went out for another walk, this time along the canals (after a bit of nature reserve to get there!) We walked to the Nine Locks in Brierley Hill. The official name for them is the Delph Locks, but they are known locally as the nine locks, even though there are only eight (and have been for quite a long time.) I didn’t have anything with me to take photos (so I need to go back obviously!) but there are some good ones here if you’re interested. We walked there, stopped at the Tenth Lock pub for lunch (nice food, decent service, dodgy loos) and walked home, making a round trip of about 6 miles, over a few hours. I also got excited to see the locks being used, which I’d never actually seen before, and braved crossing a couple to get better views. The walking itself took about 2 hours, so I can safely say that’s day 26/31 done!

May Madness: Day 23 – Relax, Take it Easy(ish)

After yesterday’s workout extravaganza, I decided to take it a little easier on myself today, so I went for a swim this morning. I love swimming in the mornings, it really wakes me up. Sadly, it didn’t work so well today, mostly because the pool was so warm that it was more like sinking into a relaxing bath. No bubbles though, but in the swimming pool that is definitely a good thing!

I didn’t do anything too exciting, just a 35 minute swim. I did some interval-type lengths for about two thirds of it, and then a lot of legs-only and arms-only lengths, which Phil claims will help me to build strength in my shoulders and hips. Swimming seemed like the best choice to stretch my aching legs, and it does seem to have helped with the tightness in my muscles, so I say mission accomplished! Day 23/31 complete (even if I did forget to click the “publish” button!)


Things That Annoy Me At The Gym

I’ve got my bitchy hat on today, and I feel the need to share a few of the things (mostly people) that irritate me at the gym.

1. People using my locker. Ok, ok, I know it’s not really my locker, but I am a creature of habit! And there aren’t that many functioning lockers at my gym, some of them involve wrestling if you actually want your belongings back. When I’m only half-awake, finding a different locker and then remembering that my stuff is in said different locker is more than my little brain can handle.

2. Swimmers who are afraid of water. Seriously. You know the ones I mean, they swim with their heads right up lest a drop of water should touch them above the neck. They usually fall into one of two categories: the immaculates and the faux-crawlers. The immaculates usually have make-up on and their hair styled (why anyone would do this pre-morning workout is beyond me) and a drop of water would ruin everything I’m sure. The faux-crawlers do a bizarre front crawl where they are at a 45-degree angle, with their head and shoulders out of the water. Sorry if anyone reading does this, but that is not front crawl. Unless you have your face in the water, you will always struggle to propel yourself with front crawl as it produces a kind of flailing motion instead of a smooth swimming stroke. Also, it looks stupid and splashes the people around you – heaven forbid you swim next to an immaculate!


3. Show-offs. There are two men at my gym who immediately spring to mind here. One of them I have only ever seen in the weights section, which just happens to be right outside the doorway to the changing rooms. Every time a woman leaves the changing room he starts flexing and preening.

White Goodman

The other one tends to show up wherever a female (or slender male) happens to be doing a traditionally “manly” activity like weightlifting or boxing, and start demonstrating his own prowess. I have genuinely never seen him go to either of those areas unless it’s in that situation. Women can be show-offs too, it isn’t just a male activity. They are often made-up similarly to the immaculates, and wearing designer gym gear, unlike me who rolls out of bed and into old trackie bottoms and whatever top happens to be clean. They don’t seem to sweat very much, and spend a lot of time looking round to see who is looking at them.

4. When the water is too warm. The pool water at my last swim was 32C (90F). It is regularly over 30C, and I just find it far too warm. It is about the same temperature as the hot tub, or so it feels, and it’s like trying to swim in bathwater. Not fun.

5. Poor etiquette. This applies to a lot of things, my personal list includes:
– Queue-jumping – on busy days, people have to wait to get in the pool since it’s very small, or to use certain equpiment. Darting in when there is a teeny gap is just rude, especially if you can see people have been waiting!
– Rubbish – because, why wouldn’t you throw away your empty water bottle? The recycle bin is just outside the changing room. You’ve just done a 60 minute workout but you’re too lazy to carry your bottle to the bin??

If no one threw their water bottle away...
If no one threw their water bottle away…

– Sweat – take a sweat towel, wipe down the machine you’ve just dripped on. It isn’t difficult. Please, just do it.
– Taking all the space in the changing room – there is one bench and a small counter in the changing room at my gym, but some women will take the whole lot to get ready, leaving the rest of us to get changed practically in our lockers. I use all the space I need if I’m in there alone, but if other people are sharing it then I move stuff around.

6. People who pretend they know what they’re doing. I know when you’re new to the gym it can be daunting. A new lady in the gym last week went round every single weight machine and did 3 reps maximum on everything. In the time it took me to do leg presses she went on 8 different machines . As I understand it, that’s not going to make much difference, although it could be an alternative method I haven’t heard of since I’m in no way an expert. It just seemed as though she didn’t know what to do, so she did everything! The gym staff are there for a reason, ask them for help!

I’m going to stop here, since I can see me descending into full-on cattiness. I love the gym, and most of the people there are helpful, friendly and polite. But rightly or wrongly, these things bug me!


May Madness: Day 22 – I May Have Made a Terrible Mistake

Last week I had a minor cashflow crisis, so I moved my PT session back a week so that was booked in for this morning. Forgetting all about that, I had to rearrange boxing due to the meal out at work on Tuesday (really that meal confused my whole week, I need time to prepare for these things!!) and without using my single working brain cell (I only have one left by Friday) I booked that in for – you guessed it! – this evening. I also had a later than usual night last night, so I’m functioning on around 5 hours sleep today. Fortunately, that tends to make me hyper until late evening when I start to get cranky and fidgety.
This morning then, I bounced into the gym, all happy, on time and raring to go. To be honest, Phil looked quite scared. Then he recovered and sent me off to warm up on the cross trainer (where I noticed that I was going faster than usual, but was less out of breath.) Worryingly, from the exciting height I reach on the cross trainer, I noticed a section cordoned off with a sign on: reserved for PT session. More worryingly, it contained a rower, a mat, a kettlebell and a step. I did a circuit of:

500m row, level 10 – aim for 2 mins 20s
15 press-ups
20 hill climbers
15 squats
20 kettlebell swings (no idea on the weight, I just know if I ever choose it myself it’s the yellow one!)
500m row, level 10 – aim for 2 mins 40s

I got a one-minute rest and then repeated the same circuit but aiming for 2mins 18s and then 2mins 30s on the rower.

Another one-minute rest and then:
10 kettlebell swings
5 second rest
10 kettlebell swings
6 second rest
10 kettlebell swings
7 second rest
10 kettlebell swings
8 second rest
10 kettlebell swings
9 second rest
10 kettlebell swings
1 minute rest
10 squats
5 second rest
10 squats
5 second rest
10 squats
(and a promise that if I did the squats fast and with no complaining (who me?!) that Phil wouldn’t ring/text Richard to report on me before my session tonight!)

Incidentally, I always think that kettlebell swings have the potential to be very painful for men… anyone else, or is it just me??

And then Phil showed me some stretches – he usually stretches me after PT sessions, but it seems he noticed that I don’t always ever stretch after my gym sessions (I usually swim instead, but apparently that’s no excuse.)

Then I went to Tesco and bought some lovely healthy stuff and ignored the chocolate aisle completely – I sometimes find after a big workout that I feel like I deserve something like that, even if I have no spare syns (like today) but I told myself that would negate the effects of the workout I’d just done and kept walking. And on to work, where I made sure to keep walking around, since squats make my thighs ache if I keep too still afterwards!

Straight after work I trotted down to the other gym for my session with Richard, which I was dreading, having worked really quite hard this morning. Despite my hoping, he didn’t go easy on me. After my 5-minute warm-up on the rower I did a circuit of:
Mountain climbers
Kettlebell swings (because it had been hours since I’d done those)
Galumphing (for anyone reading for the first time, this is actually side-stepping/skipping type movement, for 3 paces, touching the floor at each end.)

I did a minute of each with 20 second rests, a one minute rest and then repeated the circuit, but with an extra minute of kettlebells on the end.

After that, I did 4 one-minute rounds on the punchbag. This was a lot better than I did last week – after the circuit last week I felt too exhausted to put much energy into the boxing part, but today I felt less tired, and my technique had improved a lot as well. In fact, although I complained a lot (I went in with the wrong attitude I think, I felt quite negative), the whole workout felt easier than last week, and definitely much easier than the first attempt at a similar circuit. And both Phil and Richard praised me today, and how much I’ve improved – Richard even said that other people at his gym had commented on it (which is nice, but I prefer the idea that no one ever sees me!)

Having said that, I was quite relieved to get home and sit down with my book! Now I’m going to go and cook aubergine and mushroom curry for dinner and try to make my legs propel me to the polling station!

If there's going to be kettlebells, they should be like this one!
If there’s going to be kettlebells, they should be like this one!

Weekly Weigh-In Results 21st May 2014

Well last night’s weigh-in was pretty disappointing/frustrating. I gained 1.5lb. Now I did slip up a little on Tuesday morning, but I had sorted myself out by lunchtime, and even when I went out for the meal with work I stayed on plan – I even asked for my salad with no dressing! I was hoping to maintain, or even a small loss, so a gain was pretty annoying. I did measure my waist and hips and they have both reduced, so at least that’s something!
I noticed when I got home that my right leg (which is the one I had cellulitis in a couple of years ago) was quite swollen and solid, so that might not have helped my cause. I’ve asked my doctor about it and he says it might continue, but it should lessen as I lose weight.
So that’s me off into another week, but I’m not in too much of a grump over my gain. I’m in this for the long haul, and only good can come of what I’m doing.


Posting Century!

This is my 100th post, and it is quite special for me.  Nancy over at My Year[s] of Sweat asked me to write a guest post for her blog. This was kind of scary but exciting for me, and also turned out to be quite therapeutic.
If you want to take a look, you’ll find it here. And while you’re there, have a look at some of Nancy’s other posts because she is truly inspirational!


May Madness: Days 19-21 – Catching Up!

I know, I know. I disappear. I don’t call, I don’t write…
I’ve had a surprisingly busy start to the week, which has meant a change to my routine. But I’ve worked around it and still managed to (just) fit my exercise in.

On day 19, I had Mondayitis. I had a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the gym, as well as a lack of time, so I went swimming. I did a 35 minute swim and managed 80 lengths – 3/4 mile. I did it at a steady pace, but I tried to stay focussed so that my “steady” pace didn’t get too lazy! It wasn’t very inventive, but that was day 19/31 complete.

Yesterday, I couldn’t go to the gym in the morning as I had a doctor’s appointment (my doctor does early morning appointments once a week) to discuss my mental health. We talked a lot about SAD and how to avoid it – he seems confident that that is my issue – I have another appointment in 2 weeks to discuss medication vs therapy (or both). But I digress. So no gym in the morning, and no boxing in the evening – work had a celebratory meal planned for a long service award and a 65th birthday. The meal was lovely – I stuck to plan throughout, until the dessert menu appeared! But I didn’t use any other syns and my crème brulee was a definite treat for me. Oops, digressed again (and now my mouth is watering at the thought of the food. For anyone interested, we went to Bellagio and had a lovely evening. So there was nothing for it but to exercise at home, but I didn’t fancy using a DVD. Instead I did 2 rounds (cycles?) of tabata, 8 minutes in total of side to side skipping (galumphing!), star jumps, mountain climbers and marching (I’m not very inventive!), and followed that up with 4 sets of 15 squats and 4 sets of 15 crunches. I finished up with 2 cycles of yoga Sun Salute for good measure. I probably should read up a little on exercises to do at home, if I plan to do it regularly, but this seemed to work, making day 20/31 complete.

This morning I went back to the gym, and I have to admit that I had missed it! I combined the weights routines I would usually do on Tuesday and Thursday (I have a PT session tomorrow,) and did:
Hip Adductor Machine – 4 sets of 15, 2 at 90kg, 2 at 110kg
Hip Abductor Machine – 4 sets of 15 2 at 70kg, 2 at 90kg
Leg Press Machine – 4 sets of 15, 3 at 140kg, 1 at 160kg
3 sets of 12 of:
Dumbbell bench press (8kg weights)
Single arm bent over rows (8kg weights)
Dumbbell Shoulder press (6kg weights)
Bicep curls (8kg weights)
Tricep extensions (6kg weights)
Lat pull downs (2 sets at 75kg, 1 set at 87.5kg)
Chest press (50kg weights)
Flappy arms (2.5kg weights)

All followed up with a 15 minute swim, which I took at a fairly gentle pace, since I was using it mostly to stretch my muscles. Definitely, definitely day 21/31 complete!


May Madness: Day 17 & 18 – The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Another joint post, since my weekend has been really busy again! Yesterday we went for another walk, which turned out to be a lot longer than expected, and today has been full of sunshine, housework, roast dinners and a (slightly disappointing) cinema trip.

Yesterday, we decided to go for another walk in the sunshine. We set off through the nature reserve and then onto a different bit of canal – there are a lot of canals where we live because the area was quite heavily mined in the 1800s – there are also a lot of pools which were formerly quarries. We got up close to some baby birds, and also saw a swan with her cygnets, but they weren’t keen to pose for us.

When we came to what we had intended to be nearly the end of our route – we would have looped round across our local park and home, we found a canal tunnel, which apparently didn’t look that long.
IMG-20140517-00064 We set off through it, and I have to say, it was pretty creepy. It was very dark, wet and completely devoid of other people. After a loooong time of feeling like that pinprick of light would never get any bigger, we finally started to see a little more daylight, and eventually (with very wet feet) came out into the bright sunshine. Sandwell-20140517-00066 Having been told that the tunnel wasn’t very long, we found the actual distance at the other end. Sandwell-20140517-00067 I don’t know about for walkers, but a website I found about the tunnel said that it is the longest cycleable tunnel in the UK. It was also the last canal tunnel to be built in the canal era, which I thought was quite interesting.
When we got to the other end and worked out where we were, we found we were about 3.7 miles away from home. So after a stop in the first pub we found for a drink, we walked back in about another hour. With a total of about 9 miles walked, that was definitely day 17/31 complete.

So that's a decent walk, the dotted lines are the tunnel!
So that’s a decent walk, the dotted lines are the tunnel!

Today was a busy sort of day; with lots of little tasks to get done, and trying to fit in some relaxation. Fitting in some exercise was a bit of a challenge. Eventually, I decided to fit it in whilst the roast was in the oven, but I had to do it in 2 sections, because of cooking timings. So I did:
20 minutes salsacise (not a major workout since it was the intermediate stage, which I find quite easy now.)
25 minutes yoga – this was the intermediate sun salute workout on the yoga DVD I did last week, and is a definite step up from last week’s workout; I found it quite challenging, but the stretching definitely did my legs some good after yesterday! So, with a semi-rest day, that’s day 18/31 also complete.


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