TFW – Past Half Way!

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I’m now over half way into my Training for Warriors programme! Ohhh it’s so sad. I don’t wanna say that I’ve love(d) the programme – past tense, because we do still have a couple of weeks to go. But I have loved it. Up to this point it has been such a great experience. I’ve pushed myself mentally and physically.

Actually, I want to talk a bit about that. People will often tell you that mental challenges are good, and that they help you to see how far you can push yourself. Don’t get me wrong, to some extent I agree with that. There’s a lot of truth hidden behind cliche phrases, and I think the phrase, ‘there’s no growth in the comfort zone’ is insanely applicable in life. But it comes with constraints. What happens when you push yourself to your limit, and you still aren’t good enough? Let’s not be naive here, it happens. Cliche number two: ‘be comfortably uncomfortable.’ I feel like the moment of positive change is a sweet spot on a sliding scale. At one end of the scale there’s your ultimate comfort zone – I dunno, eating Chinese whilst watching Gilmore Girls or whatever your equivalent is. At the other end, there’s the zone that is so uncomfortable  that it cripples you. Somewhere in the middle, is that sweet spot where you’re a long fucking way from any prawn crackers, but you aren’t so far away that the level of discomfort is preventing you from moving forward. For me, that was getting up on a Saturday morning to run 16 miles knowing full well I’d hate every minute that took place past mile 6, and give myself hell for a poor performance for the rest of the week, so by the time next Saturday came round I’d be just ever so slightly more miserable than before, and the cycle would repeat.

TFW has so far been pretty fucking sweet spot centric. I’ve done things I didn’t even think were possible for me, but because of the environment you’re in and the supportive nature of the group, it seems much more realistic. Like, the other day we did pull ups. I definitely had help, but fucking pull ups. Who knew? A couple of weeks ago I also learned how to get on a treadmill whilst it’s already running – and I didn’t break any limbs or anything!!!

TFW  has allowed me to become part of a group of people who just want to improve themselves. We’re a pretty diverse group of people and I guess we all have different things we want to achieve from the programme. I just wanted to feel confident again. I’m not going to lie and say I’m all the way there. I’m a long way away from slaying like one of Ru Paul’s drag queens, but I do feel better about myself.

I guess this post is pretty gushy and I’m not sure it has a real point other than to update on my progress so far. I’ve not had mid way measurements done or anything. I wanted to wait until the end and see the extent of my progress. I’m not sure it will be massive because it will only have been 8 weeks, and I’ve definitely had a couple of cheat meals here and there, but still. I feel like I’m turning a corner.

It’s about time.

 

Hurricanes Hurt My Feelings. (Training for Warriors: Weeks 2-3)

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Weeks 2 & 3 of warrior training are officially complete, 5 to go!

On week 2 perhaps the most notable thing to happen was that we were given a 3 day challenge to photograph everything we ate; and then whatsapp the images to our coach, Toby. Some of my fellow warriors seemed a bit dubious about photographing everything they ate, but the self absorbed, millennial, food blogger in my head was doing back flips in front of a landscape of 4th of July style fireworks. YES. A legitimate reason for taking photos of my food! My entire life (post invention of Instagram) had been leading up to the moment, and by God I intended to make the most out of it. It didn’t take me long to realise though, that when you also have a job, taking photos of literally everything you eat/drink is actually quite frustrating. Try as I might, it’s pretty darn tricky to achieve that quirky, tumblr aesthetic when snapping a green tea served in a slightly cracked mug that says ‘This Is What An Awesome Baker Looks Like’, in front of the keyboard on my work desk. Alas, I made the most of what I had and sent the pictures through. Typically, during the 3 day challenge we had a baby shower at work for my colleague Becky. I baked maple cupcakes with pink and blue swirled buttercream (gender TBC). Whilst I did manage to refrain from dunking my entire head into the tray of cupcakes,a la Bruce Bogtrotter;  I caved at the sight of pork pie and pringles. I’m not even just saying that for alliterative illustration, that genuinely was where I cracked. I’ll be interested to see what Toby makes of THAT nutritious feast.

Whilst we’re talking food, I have still been trying (in between the pork pie and pringles) to stick to a lower carb, higher fat diet. I’ve not cut carbs out completely though, because seriously, what would be the point in life? Instead I’m trying to have carbs with just one of my meals, which is usually dinner. I’ve been making a lot of recipes from that snazzy Lean in 15 fellow whose name escapes me…Joe Wicks, that’s it. I followed his insta account after a girl at training recommended it. I was actually pretty amazed that most of his recipes do only take about 15 minutes. Tonight I made his italian lemon chicken and mate…for real though, it was a party in my mouth. I feel like I’ve said that phrase several times in this blog. Dear god lets hope I don’t ever get a decent following, I’ll be strung up for lack of originality quicker than you can say boo to a goose….that’s not a phrase is it? Anyway.

Here’s photo spunk (sorry mum) of some of the stuff I’ve been eating over the last couple of weeks. Eggs and avocado have been my pretty much standard breakfast – for ease more so than anything. The weird orange concoction in the top right hand corner is something I’m using slight artistic license in naming a deconstructed fish cake. Sweet potato mashed with 10g lighter mature cheddar, garden peas and a tin of tuna, all mixed together. And yes, it might look like something that has already been digested once, but it actually tasted lovely. The bottom right picture is of leftover tandoori chicken with salad and half a packet of microwaveable rice. I knowwww I know that cooking stuff in the microwave will eventually give me intestinal AIDS and turn me into a 2 headed zombie, but sometimes you just have to pick your battles, OK? Time was of the essence and that was that.

Moving into week 3, the workouts turned into real monsters – monsters who, I’m fairly confident were trying to bin me off. On Monday, I was tired, but dragged myself out of the house knowing that I’d feel better eventually. Monday sessions are referred to as Hurricanes. When I search for the word hurricane on dictionary.com, one of the definitions is this: a storm of the most intense severity. And whilst I think that tells you all you need to know about how tough Monday’s work out was, I’d also like to really drive the point home by letting you all know I 100% had to scarper to the loos mid workout so that I could throw up my guts. Delightful, right? We were doing a lot of sprints, followed by kettlebell excercises, followed by sprints, followed by kettlebell exercises, followed by sprints, followed by kettlebell excercises and yeah. Midway through the second lot of sprints I quickly realised I’d way overestimated how fast I could go and for how long. Egrh. Lesson learned. I will say though, one thing I’ve noticed is that there have been times when I know, if I was working out by myself, I would have taken it down 10 notches and had a rest period. Whilst yes, there are rest periods during warrior training, when you’re working, you are bloody well working and that is that. So I guess that’s good.

And, to sign this off I will leave you with this.Today I tried on a pair of trousers I couldn’t do up a few months ago. They now fit.

*Que marching band, fireworks, confetti canons and mickey mouse on a freakin’ float wearing a gym kit*

 

 

 

Lucy Warrior Princess

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My first week of warrior training is officially under my belt!

At 7.30pm on Monday, instead of running through my usual week night routine of pj’s > netflix > bed, I whipped out my gym leggings and an old Paramore Fan Club tshirt. I stopped *just* short of smearing war paint on my face and and fashioning myself a tin foil shield – although I bet it would have been a great ice breaker.

Our 8 week training plan includes 3 workouts a week – Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Our group consists of about 15 people with a good mix of ages, genders, shapes, sizes, motivations. In all honesty I’m probably the heaviest in the group but bitch plz, it’s been 26 years, I’m used to it. Our coach, Toby, seems to have energy in such excessive amounts that it’s easy to soak in. On Thursday in particular I was feeling really sleepy. Within 5 minutes of stepping into the gym I was raring to go – which was handy because that session was an energy circuit, and it was hard. as. fuck. I felt like I was going to throw up at the end, which weirdly felt quite satisfying.

One of the biggest changes that’s taken place this week though, has been my eating. I don’t know if anybody else can relate to this, but for me, if I’m working out regularly, I just feel so much more motivated to eat healthily. If I’m sat on my ass doing nothing but watch TV, it’s like my mouth is a magnet for everything that would make my GP raise his eyebrows at me in judgement.

I constantly feel confused by research on nutrition. There are approximately a billion and twelve conflicting pieces of evidence on the topic, so you see my problem here. Toby posted a YouTube link in our warrior whatsapp group, which led to me watching a 25 minute video of a seminar being given by John Beradi. Beradi’s talk went into the different body types, and how each one tends to benefit from a different nutritional habits. In terms of body type, I definitely fall into Team Endomorph. I store fat stupidly easy, I’m 5’3, but have almost comically short limbs; and dammit, my hips do not lie. Beradi mentioned that endomorphs tend to benefit from a low carb, high protein/fat diet. And would you Adam and Eve it, that seems to kinda, sorta, fit in with the type of diet I followed a few years back when I lost 4.5 stone. Wonders never cease. So that’s the direction I’ve been trying to head in this week. I’ve not gone quite as low carb as perhaps I have in the past, but it’s quite a big change really. Over the last year, pasta and I have become such close friends we’re considering getting matching tattoos. So…steady as she goes and all that jazz.

I took some photos of what I’ve been eating for blog purposes, but for some reason, the camera on my iphone seems to have depleted in quality. Which is v. convenient timing, given that the iphone 7 info was released this week. I see you Apple, and your conspiring ways *shifty eyes*.

For breakfasts I’ve been tending to stick with half of a small avocado, a piece of toast and eggs of some sort. Nothing particularly to write home about. The thing is though, I always find that the problem with being an early riser is this: I’ll eat breakfast at 06:30, and by the time I’ve settled into work, it’s 09:30 and I’m ravenous again. And my God, I swear if the world wanted to test my will power, they chose the right week to do it. This week at work, our office has had several people return from their holidays with sweets and biscuits to share round, and our office manager brought in a tray of doughnuts and 3 bags of cookies. It’s amazing how a kind and generous gesture can occasionally make you want to sew your own lips together. Normally, by 10am I’d be one doughnut down and looking forward to lunch, but not this week. This week, I am a warrior. This week, I gritted my teeth, and ate a tub of mixed berries that I’d thankfully had the foresight to pack for myself. Like…berries are alright, but they aren’t doughnuts are they?

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For lunch I’ve been buying Aldi’s prepacked salads. Not the ones that come laden with chicken and bacon in a mayonnaise that is so unhealthy you might as well just eat a stick of butter and be done with it. These are the ones you find near the lettuce. They come in a little plastic box, in either Mediterranean style, or British garden. The fact that they’re individually packed suits me, because in our house, if I tried to get Andy to eat a salad for lunch he’d probably pack his bags and move out, and buying full portions of everything just leads to waste. So instead of living the Bridget Jones singleton life, I take these and then at work I’ll  add in either a tin of tuna, chicken breast or some mini mozzarella balls and sometimes a bit of avocado if there was any leftover at breakfast. I’ve got a bottle of balsamic dressing on my desk so it’s not quite as depressing as it could be. The cleaners must think I’m a right fruitcake.

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Dinners have been where I’ve been having my main carb intake. I might try and amend this a bit as my training goes on, but this week I’ve had fairly standard meals – nothing that will inspire the gourmet chefs among the blogosphere. Grilled turkey burger with home made sweet potato fries, a mushroom omelette with baked beans and a garlicky tomato pasta with lean minced beef, spinach and peas were a few of my dinners this week.

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And then Saturday. The cheat meal. On Saturday night, if you’d been a fly on the wall in my kitchen you’d have never seen someone so overjoyed to be making a curry. Saturday night tea was an awesome Thai Green chicken curry with mange tout, baby corn, mushrooms, noodles and prawn crackers, followed by a very naughty piece of cheesecake. The thing is, yes it’s not a perfect thing to include in any diet plan, but now I’ve had that treat I do feel motivated to eat well for the rest of the week now.

Happy days.

 

A New Challenge

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For the last couple of months, Andy has been lovingly nagging the shit out of me to check out a gym he’s been going to. H3 Performance is based just outside of Nottingham city centre, near Sneinton. They run an 8 week Training for Warriors challenge. The creator of the programme used to train MMA fighters, and eventually formed the programme to suit us normos. There is little I love more than pretending I’m super tough, so the thought of training like an MMA fighter suits me down to the ground. The deal is this: you pay £150 and for 8 weeks, you attend 3 group workout sessions a week. Same group of about 10 people every time, to build comradery I guess. Your measurements are taken, there’s a whatsapp group for support outside of the gym and you are given a nutrition guide. The works, basically. So, sort of to shut Andy up, but sort of because I need this, I signed up for the challenge. On Thursday last week I went to my orientation to meet the group. We also heard from an incredible woman who had completed the challenge previously. She has 5 kids, and looks better than I have ever looked in my entire life – superwoman! I think the orientation was partially intended to help ease any pre-programme anxieties, but honestly I’m so excited to get back on the health and fitness wagon I feel immune from any fear.

I want to take just a minute to get real here. My mental health has been less than optimum this year. I didn’t complete the London marathon due to a knee injury, but even during training I was struggling. The long runs were a psychological battle that I rarely won. They left me feeling lonely and useless. I didn’t believe in myself and I felt like nobody else did either. I felt my confidence plummet. One particular Saturday, I was embarking on a 13 mile long run. The weather was unseasonably hot, although it had rained the entire previous day. The lake I was running laps of had tonnes of gnats hovering its circumference, sticking to my sweaty forehead and getting in my mouth and eyes. My nike run app kept randomly pausing, and I momentarily contemplated hurling my phone into the water in frustration. I have found that if I run in my glasses they slip off my face, so I just didn’t wear them. I clearly overestimated how well I can actually see without my specs, and eventually I tripped and fell in the mud. It was this delightfully elegant moment I can now pinpoint as the lowest low of my training. I had to limp for a mile back to my car trying desperately not to cry. I felt like an idiot. And, just to add insult to injury, not a single sodding dog walker asked if I was ok! Ohhh sure they were happy to stare at me like I was the abominable fucking snowman, but god forbid they ask if the limping woman, covered from shin to boob in mud was ok. GOD FORBID.

I’ll probably talk more about my marathon training experience in a later blog but for now, just know that ever since then I’ve found it hard to feel motivated or get into a good routine. Slowly I’ve watched myself slip back into a life of Friday night takeaways and exchanging gym sessions for Netflix binges. My self-esteem probably hasn’t been this crap since secondary school. So now, I’m 100% ready to start this new challenge. The irony that I was supposed to run the marathon to raise money for a mental health charity is not lost on me, believe me.

I am SO ready to get back into shape, for both my physical and mental health. I once lost almost 5 stone (70ish pounds) and even though I was still chubby at a size 16, I felt so strong and confident that it didn’t matter to me. I could walk into any room and feel like I deserved to be there. I could make decisions with clarity. I could operate more smoothly, I was less clumsy and more focused. I just felt like a sharper version of myself. I felt like a respectable person. I now feel sluggish and heavy, and my self-esteem is pretty much none existent the majority of the time. I think knowing the difference between how good I can feel, and how bad I feel now is what makes dealing with how I feel now so tough. You can’t miss what you never had right? But I did have it once, and god damn. I miss it.

So.

Here’s to turning things around, and getting back on track.

 

Race for Life 10k

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Have you ever had one of those weeks at work where the best plan of action appears to be to quit, sell your belongings, buy a camper van and piss off to the arse end of nowhere? Well, that’s been my week. I am bloody knackered! However, work life aside I had a pretty awesome Sunday running the Race for Life 10k.

So if I start by explaining that I was a bit concerned about doing this race. For one thing, it was my first ever 10k race. For another, right before my Nike+ ‘peak weeks’ of my training plan, I had to rest my leg because I could feel it on the brink of injury. That took two weeks of rest to get back to full strength, which left me with one week before the race. Aaaaand in that week I somehow (seriously, God knows how) managed to hurt my collar bone doing the oh so strenuous task of…. getting in the car. Yup. You read that correctly. I don’t even have the excuse of having to climb into the back seat of a 3 door car, because I was driving. So I pretty much assumed the powers that be were not looking down fondly at the prospect of me owning this race. But, being a stubborn little shit, on Sunday morning I laced up my running shoes, donned the Lycra and headed off to Darley Park in Derby. 

Now.

Let me tell you a thing or two about Darley Park. It fucking sucks. There is zilch parking spaces so you have to walk a mile to the race site before you’ve even started, and then when you get there, there is scarecly a flat surface to be seen. I didn’t notice this at first. I’ll tell you when it did become acutely obvious though – when I was 2km into the race and had yet to stop gathering altitude. I suppose I perhaps should have thought about this when I signed up. After all, I have previously been sledging at this park….

As a lovely little ‘treat’, in addition to the mountainous terrain, Britain decided to have one of its nine hot days a year on Sunday. The sun beamed down and I could legitimately feel my usually translucent white skin sizzling like the skin of a rotisserie chicken as I ran. 

But you know what, in spite of those slight obstacles, I actually really enjoyed myself. Ok, so I didn’t manage to reach my target of 10k in under 60 minutes, but honestly I think given the break in training at a crucial time, the unfamiliar track and the heat, I did pretty darn well.

My favourite thing about these types of events is always the last 100m. The atmosphere is euphoric as music in earphones is drowned out by the sound of people cheering you on. I saw my lovely boyfriend waving his arms around like a loon to spur me on from about 300m away. I mean to be fair, he’s 6’6, it’d be difficult to miss him. But it made me smile so much. My mum managed to get out of work early to come and see me too, and I actually saw a girl I used to work with in a job at we both passionately hated, running the track as well, so that was awesome. 

The race has reactivated the bug in me. A lady at work who I really admire and look up to for about 100 different reasons has asked if I want to do something called Equinox with her and her sister. It’s basically a 24 hour relay, where a team of four take it in turns to run 10k, and see how many they can fit in over the course of 24 hours. It sounds pretty incredible, and I’m nervous as shit, but I think I’m gonna do it. It will keep me motivated and on course with my training.

Next mission: Go. 

The Scary First Run…

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Do you remember that first day back to school after the Summer holidays feeling? That ‘oh Jesus Christ mum, don’t make me go back to that hell hole with those monstrous kids and be taught about oxbow lakes by a hungover middle aged man who clearly hates teenagers and only took up teaching as a profession for the epic annual leave’ feeling? That is somewhat akin to how I feel about going back running, every time I have any amount of time greater than 4 days off. Which is weird, because unlike school, I actually quite like running.

Historic teen angst aside, today was my first run since my ankle started to feel too weak to run on a couple of weeks ago. I was quite literally dreading it. Thankfully, my body woke me up naturally at 4.45 so I didn’t have to endure the rather obnoxious mix of alarm tones I have (Independent Woman – Destiny’s Child, followed two minutes later by Bang Bang – Nicki, Jessie and Ari). I reluctantly squeezed myself into my Lycra, and timidly stepped out of the front door. I live half way up a bloody massive hill, so I always choose to power walk up to the top of the hill to start my workout off – at just over half a mile long, it serves nicely as a warm up for my just woken up muscles. After a few semi discreet stretches at the top of the hill, I decided to start things off gently. Today’s run was 3.5 miles according to my Nike app, and I decided to do 2 minutes of running, 2 minutes of walking all the way. And you know what? It. Felt. Awesome. 

Everything I worried about was for nothing. My ankle felt strong and healthy again, I didn’t get honked at from the white van misogynists, my lungs didn’t explode. Overall success! I was having a think about the benefits of easing myself in. I’m so pleased I did, because it’s put me in such a great frame of mind for the rest of the week. Once again, I’m looking forward to the Race for Life 10k I’m participating in on Sunday. I’m so affected when I have a rough performance. It’s so silly. I try to tell myself that even a lame workout is better than no workout, and I’ve lapped miles around the people who are still in bed; but somehow a rough workout day often leaves me feeling frustrated with a lack of progress – even when in actual fact, I have progressed – a lot. 

Human beings are silly buggers. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Can Fat People Run In Public?

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Short answer: Of course they bloody well can.

The long answer is a bit more complex. When I embarked on the great weight loss quest of ’09, I worked out in the privacy of my own home because the thought of exercising in public and having people laugh at me was unbearable. I was a UK size 24-26 and horrendously unfit. On reflection, I now realise that the biggest obstacle I had to overcome wasn’t body image confidence, it was exercise confidence. Infuriatingly, a lot of slimmer runners tried to encourage me by saying things along the lines of ‘oh it will be fine, nobody will say anything’. Experience has taught me that that sadly, this isn’t necessarily true. I’m pretty sure any overweight person can attest to that. The last thing I’d want is to put anybody off, but I have to be honest; there have been rare occasions where kids have made snide remarks whilst I’m out running. The thing is, I’m now so much more confident that I just don’t care. You might raise your eyebrows, but I genuinely don’t give two figs. Not even one fig. Damn it I’m a foodie, ain’t nobody havin’ at my figs! In fact, it makes me laugh, because I think – God, one day they’re going to look back and realise what dicks they were.

Getting from point A > B wasn’t easy, but it happened. Working out at home enabled me to build up a good base of fitness, and with that came so much more. It directly helped me to not feel ashamed of my own body, because I was in awe of what I’d trained it to do. I don’t care about people who think my body is something to make fun of, because I know with absolute certainty that I’m strong, healthy and fit. Yes, I’m still on a journey to be even stronger, healthier and fitter – but I’m making progress and I’m proud of what I’ve done. Please don’t think you have to be a perfect size 10 to be confident in your skin. I’m a solid size 16-18 with jiggly thighs and bingo wings, but I don’t care about that anymore. That’s what exercise has done for me.

***Note – you don’t have to be as tiny as Hayley Williams to be body confident!***

That being said, the first time I ran outside, I chose a secluded field where nobody could see me. I jogged/walked around the field twice, probably no more than a mile, and built up my stamina over the course of a few weeks. I was euphoric. I had done the impossible! I had left my house and ran! I was on my way to being one of those runners you see on the streets, all serene, listening to their music, not bending over to throw up after 5 minutes of exertion! With my sister as my sidekick, I eventually stepped off the field and onto the pavements. Before long I was one of those runners on the street, listening to their music, not throwing up and stuff!!! (I’m still working on the serene part).

Exercising in public is something I’d compare with public speaking. The first time you do it, it’s terrifying, you feel like everybody is staring at you, judging you and thinking awful things. With practice comes confidence, until eventually it ain’t no thing and you’re doing hill sprints by yourself, sweating your ass off and not giving a single shit. If you don’t come with built in confidence, build it yourself! That might mean starting off with a half hour beginners aerobics DVD in your living room. It might mean walking up and down the stairs for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, until before long you’re jogging them. It might mean downloading a couch to 5k podcast and heading out at 5 am when nobody is around, or even driving 5 miles away to run somewhere where people don’t know you. Whatever your starting point is, I can 100% guarantee that that will be the most difficult thing you’ll encounter, and that from there on out, the world will be your proverbial oyster!