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.

 

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.

 

LDN Marathon Training: Weeks 3 & 4

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Week 3 of my marathon training is when I promised myself that I would never, ever run less than 3 hours after eating dinner again.  Tuesday was a 4 miler. I was working at an event in a different city on Tuesday, so I had no opportunity to run before work, which is always a bummer. I prefer running in the morning so much more. Apart from wanting an extra hour in bed, there aren’t really many excuses to not run at six in the morning. At 5pm however, you’re tired, you’ve had a long day, you’re hungry, you’ve got to get dinner started, you’ve got a tonne of chores to do, the dog needs walking, the hamster cage needs cleaning, you’ve got to dust the skirting boards, the silverware needs polishing, the cd collection needs alphabetising!! Ohhh the excuses are abundant! The problematic thing about marathon training though, is that you sort of have to just take those excuses and shove them away, because 26.2 miles don’t just happen out of nowhere. Or at least, not for me, Lucy, Penguin Runner.

On Tuesday afternoon I drove home from the event I’d been working at and was starving. I decided to try eating dinner and then run a bit later in the evening. I managed to have dinner cooked and eaten by about 5.30, and by 8pm I was in the gym. Within about 6 minutes I knew I’d end up throwing up before I reached the 4 mile mark. I tried changing my run-walk patter, I tried running at a slower but more consistent pace, I tried distracting myself by changing the treadmill TV screen to a New Zealand ‘run through’ setting. As it turns out, when you’re knackered and trying not to vomit, New Zealand’s surroundings are actually just really annoying. Why are there so many trees?! I think I made it to about the 2.5 mile mark before I tapped out. At that point, it wasn’t just feeling physically sick that was getting in the way, I was so hyper aware that I was having a terrible run that my mental toughness was about as sturdy as a birthday jelly. In fact, I was so frustrated that I ended up going home in a huff and having a massive cry, like a big ole’ sweaty baby.

Thank GOD the rest of the week’s training went to plan, and without any notable trauma. There were a couple of 3 milers and on Saturday, my long run was 6 miles. I did that at a 13 minute mile pace, so believe me, I’m no Mo Farrah, but I felt good. I mean, relatively good. I didn’t have to crawl to the car or anything, so that was nice.

Week 4 surprised me. I hadn’t really looked ahead at my training programme in detail, so I was very close to doing a cartwheel of joy when I realised week 4 was almost a ‘rest’ week. My longest run was 3.8 miles, and the shortest was 2, with a few 3 milers sprinkled into the midweek mix.  I was quite chuffed with how easy the 3 milers were starting to feel, so I used the shorter distances to try and improve my pace. As I said, I’m definitely not going to be breaking any records speed wise. I take walk breaks, because otherwise running just isn’t fun for me, and I won’t make the distances. I am noticing that the further I get into my training plan, the easier I’m finding it to reduce those walk breaks. I’m currently walking about 2-5 minutes every mile, and running/jogging the rest. It seems to be working alright.

As always, if you would like to sponsor me and help raise money for mental health charity, Mind, click through to the link below.

www.virginmoneygiving.com/Lucy-Titterton

Virgin London Marathon 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 25: Runners pass by the University of Greenwich during the 2010 Virgin London Marathon on April 25, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

 

LDN Marathon Training: Week 2

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Week 2 of Marathon Training was supposed to look like this, according to my Nike+ app:

Monday – 3 miles

Tuesday – 5 miles

Wednesday – 3 miles

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 3 miles

Saturday – 5 miles.

What actually happened was this:

Monday – 3 miles

Tuesday – Ran 3 miles then realised the blister that I’d thought had healed, had not healed. Succinctly slammed fist down on the treadmill ‘stop’ button and went home to sulk about the injustice of it all.

Wednesday – Strapped foot in approximately 20 metres of bandaging and plasters, attempted to run on treadmill, burst blister, wanted to punch myself in the face. Spent the day hobbling around like an actual lemon.

Thankfully though, after that it was all uphill from there.  Now I think about it, that’s an odd turn of phrase isn’t it –  All uphill from there? Uphill is harder. Downhill is easier. Why would we describe things getting better as being ‘uphill’? Whoever coined that was clearly not a runner themselves. I digress. After a bit of foot airing and a LOT of complaining, things were on the mend! Rejoice!

On Saturday I decided enough was enough. I went to get new running shoes, yay! It was the first time I’d ever been to a ‘proper’ running shop. The imposter syndrome was firmly in place, let me tell you. The staff were perfectly welcoming, but as somebody who is…a bit jigglier than the average runner, shall we say, I always feel like I have to prove to people that I’m not an ‘all the gear, no idea’ type person. I feel like wearing a tshirt that says ‘I know I’m fat but I can still run OK?!’

Paranoia aside, at the running shop, they made me jog on the world’s most jolty treadmill, which films your feet from behind so the guys can assess what your stride is like. Watching that footage back was less than pleasing to the eye. As it turns out, I run with all the grace of a penguin. Additionally, it seems that my feet are destined for ugly running shoes. When I’d first walked into the shop, I’d spotted a pair of bright pink and orange Nike’s that I instantly decided were my soul mate. If there’s one time you can get away with wearing heinously bright shoes, it’s when you’re running. They were so beautiful… BUT NO. My stupid penguin feet required the most boring looking shoes in all the land.


My heart aches thinking about it. Still. I suppose, if we’re being grown ups about it, having correct support when running a billion miles is probably more important than aesthetics. God damn adulthood.

Since I got my new shoes, I’ve had much, much better runs, including a definite breakthrough run where I felt like I’d leveled up. Getting up at 5.30am to run before work isn’t easy. Running after work when you just want to go home and binge watch Jessica Jones is not easy.  So, it’s nice to feel like progress is happening. But alas. I’ll save that for next week’s update.

Again, I’m running for Mind, who are an incredible charity working to help those struggling with mental health problems. If you would like to sponsor me, click the link below:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/lucy-titterton

I GOT IN! – LDN Marathon 2016

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I really can’t believe I’m writing this post. When I was 16, I was so unfit that I could barely even walk up a standard flight of stairs without being short of breath at the top. The thought of running for longer than even a minute was completely alien to me. Fast forward 9.5 years to 2015 and I’ve just found out that I have gained a place on the Virgin London Marathon 2016. Holy shit.

In those 9.5 years I’ve spent hours in my mum and dad’s converted garage on a cross trainer, completed the P90X & Insanity programmes, shared a tiny council gym with lethargic teenagers in their PE class, pushed the limits with an awesome PT (Hi Will!), completed the very first UK Colour Run (5km) and then progressed to the 10km Race for Life. It’s been quite the journey, let me tell you. And now the bloody London Marathon! I’d say right now, I’m 50% crapping myself, 50% pure determination.

I’m running as part of the Mind team. For those who might not know, Mind is a UK based charity who focus on providing help for those suffering from mental health issues. They do some amazing work, including offering counselling services, supported housing, crisis helplines and they even help those who have had their lives overturned by mental health problems get back into training schemes and employment. Sometimes MH treatment can seem like it isn’t taken very seriously, which is frustrating for those struggling, as MH illnesses left untreated can have a far more damaging impact than so many physical illnesses. This is why it’s so important that charities like Mind exist.

Running the London Marathon for Mind has a very satisfying sense of symmetry for me. In the past, I’ve taken medication for depression. Sometimes even now I struggle with it. But one thing that has never, ever let me down, and I’ve always been able to rely on to give me a massive serotonin (happy chemical in the brain) boost is exercise. I can’t begin to estimate the number of times I’ve felt that sickening emptiness in the pit of my stomach, but forced myself to put on my gym kit and go for a run, and came back from that run feeling like I’ve conquered the world. Raising money for a charity like Mind, doing the very thing that has pulled me out of a hole so many times before – it’s a very humbling thought. Oh god, now I’m crapping myself again!

So I’m going to be blogging (and hopefully vlogging, providing my camera stops being an ass, but that’s a tale for another time) my training over the next few months. Firstly, I have a feeling I’m going to want to remember this ridiculous journey. Secondly, I’m going to be begging you for your sponsorship over the next 5ish months – the least I can do is keep you in the loop.

The following link takes you to my fundraising page. I understand completely if you don’t want to donate just yet, but please keep me in mind over the coming months. I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead, and your sponsorship would really mean the world to me.

www.virginmoneygiving.com/lucy-titterton

Healthy Junk Food: Banana, Oat and Peanut Butter Cookies

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My relationship with bananas is a bit unfortunate really. As a person who is quite into fitness, I come across approximately 832 recipes a week for post workout smoothies, oaty breakfast bakes etc; all of which are laden with banana. I’m not a fussy eater at all. In fact I’ll pretty much eat anything you put in front of me. Unless it happens to have the faintest trace of banana. I literally can’t bare it, and that fact irritates me. I want to join in on the one ingredient banana ice creams of the world. The sliced banana sandwiched with peanut butter dunked in chocolate. Oh cruel world, why did you curse my taste buds like this?!

With that in mind, it probably seems a bit odd that I’m posting a recipe for something with a banana base. This is explained by the simple fact that my boyfriend loves bananas, to the extent he buys 14 a week, and inevitably realises 5 days into the week that 2 bananas a day, every day, is a bit much even for a banana lover. Underneath bananas on my list of things I hate, is food waste. Overripe bananas shall not escape from this household regardless of my dislike for them.

Previously I’ve used leftover bananas to make a delicious chocolate and banana loaf cake, laden with cocoa powder, brown sugar, melted dark chocolate and an array of chocolate chips. But alongside my cursed taste buds, I was also gifted with a snail paced metabolism and an intense love for food, meaning the battle to not look and feel like a beached whale is quite the bloodbath for me. To combat my ‘cuddliness’, I try to eat healthy most of the time (she says, with a duck slow roasting in the oven). So instead I had a search for healthy banana bakes, and came across a recipe for oaty banana cookies. One of my favourite things about this recipe, is it only contains ingredients which you’ll probably have in the house anyway, so no going out to buy any ingredients especially. Yay!


The recipe and method are simple:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • Use a fork to mash 2 very ripe bananas into a large mixing bowl
  • Stir in half a cup of peanut butter
  • Add a cup and a half of oats and a teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Mix together until combined, then use a spoon to form ‘cookie dough’ balls
  • Bake on 180 degrees for 12-15 minutes (until firm)
  • Leave to cool on tray, et voila.


As a side note, I decided to whizz up a cup of the oats in the nutribullet to make a sort of oaty flour. I wanted these cookies to veer more towards the cookie side of things than the flapjack side, so I figured the smoother blitzed oats would help to achieve this. I also used 2 different types of peanut butter. Not might I add, before having to hoist myself onto our kitchen counter and clamber without the merest hint of elegance to my feet, in order to reach the peanut butter at the top of the cupboard. And here lies the problem with having a 6’6 boyfriend when you are 5’3. Anyway, once I finally reached the peanut butter, I decided to use a mixture – quarter of a cup of cinnamon and raisin flavour, and quarter of a cup of mighty maple. I’d come across a few recipes which called for cinnamon or maple syrup, so this was a handy shortcut. The peanut butter I use by the way (if you’re interested to know where such magical flavours come from), is Peanut Butter & Co .*

Obviously, my banana aversion means I can’t tell you from personal recommendation whether these were good or not, but given I was only able to photograph 4 of them (the others had mysteriously disappeared), I assume they’re pretty tasty. As a bonus, nutritionally the ingredients all point towards a great post workout treat. Oats contain carbs, peanut butter contains protein and banana has lots of potassium, so your torn muscle fibres will thank you for munching one or two of these after a heavy gym sesh. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

*Fun fact – I met my boyfriend online. When we met for the first time in person, he bought me a jar of their dark chocolate dream flavour peanut butter. A bit different to flowers, but it’s a year and a half later and we’re still together so…