braindribbles

Posts Tagged ‘exercise

Hello everyone!  How long has it been since I last posted? A year? Goodness knows.

Well, I am firing the brain dribbles back up again, and specifically on this night, because in exactly 6 months’ time I will be doing something really rather crazy. In my opinion, anyway.

Let me rewind three months and tell you the story from the start…

Back in July, I resolved to myself that I would do a parachute jump for NCT and raise some money to help us set up a much needed baby café (breastfeeding drop-in clinic) in Wycombe town centre. I had always wanted to give it ago, and had already put it off three years running. A bit too much alongside having a baby and moving house…

So I emailed head office to enquire.  They emailed back, saying, sorry, not doing it next year.  How about something else? Maybe the London Marathon? Applications available in a month’s time.

My eyes popped out of my head. If you don’t already know me, I’m overweight, technically obese, and haven’t run in 20-plus years. I haven’t done any regular exercise since having my children. It was out of the question. And how disappointing not to be able to do a parachute jump after all.  So I replied, saying, not for me, thanks, not for an award-winning couch potato.  I’d had something altogether less strenuous in mind. Jumping out of a plane is easy by comparison.

But then I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  It’s as if they had sowed a seed and it had taken root.  The more I thought about it, the more I realised that by doing something WAY out of my comfort zone, the more it might be worth sponsoring.  And, for me, it doesn’t get further from my comfort zone than running a marathon.

So, when the applications became available, I sent it in the same day. Amazingly, they accepted me as one of the 8 NCT runners nationwide.  And all the money I raise (£2014, so I’ll need all the help I can get!), can go towards setting up the breastfeeding drop-in that mums of new babies so badly need in the Wycombe area.

Now it’s real, and I am training.  I think it sunk in when I ran in the pouring rain yesterday and I had to take my specs off to see where I was going…. So please sponsor me if you can!

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Loved one was going to go to the gym for the first time in a while yesterday.

Then he didn’t.

He couldn’t find his swim shorts.

Looks like I’m not the only one who is finding reasons not to exercise.  Loved one needs to just as much as me.  He’s been secretly building up his fat reserves.  Which at least means he probably still weighs more than me (it really bugs me when he doesn’t, especially with him being over 6 foot tall and me a measly 5 foot 3 or so)

But it is strange just how many obstacles seem to get in the way.  Take next week, for example.  I was really proud of myself for getting through 80% of the BodyStep class without needing to adjust the steps – the remaining 20% I was in danger of tripping over the step, so I thought I’d better save myself, and the person next to me, by doing the steps on the floor – but next week I need to babysit for a friend. And the week after. And I missed the ‘dance & tone’ class last Weds because loved one didn’t get home till late.

I meant to dig out the Davina DVD on occasions like this, but I’m feeling stressed and tired. Last week was quite emotional for various reasons which I won’t go into here, which didn’t help, but on evenings where I’m supposed to put on my trainers and do kitchen aerobics* the evening flits by and it’s half ten or eleven o’clock before I realise I haven’t done it.

Admittedly I’m not motivated to do the DVD. It’s not Davina’s fault, I just seem to need extra motivation for any kind of exercise. External financial motivation is a good one.  It always helps if I’ve already paid for it. I try harder in a class setting too – no half-hearted leg curls like the ones at home – which means I feel much better for doing it properly.

In the past I’ve gone cycling, which I love, but the bike is currently unfit to ride, and the effort of getting it fit is yet another obstacle.

Dear oh dear, it’s all about the excuses today.  See what I mean though? It’s as if, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not meant to exercise.

Well, we can’t have that. I’m trying to brainstorm exercise possibilities on this hottest of days, and all I can think of is how wonderful it would be to swim right now.

Swimming pool closes shortly, and it wouldn’t go down well to vanish off at such short notice anyway, but, after a quick discussion with loved one, I’m all set to do the 6.30am earlybird swim, having promised faithfully to be back before loved one needs to leave for work.

Must… Keep…. Trying..

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* Kitchen aerobics – if your living room is carpeted, aerobics just don’t work – your trainers and the carpet fibres will give new meaning to the word friction. Stick the DVD into your laptop, plonk it on the kitchen counter and do it there. And try not to crash into the table in the process.

Generally speaking, when I am focused on something, I’m fairly switched on.  I am not quite the dunderhead I sometimes appear to be.

Then I’ll get the tiniest distraction.  And that’s it.  Focus – gone.  Memory – gone.  No idea what I was doing or talking about.

This is a bit of a problem when I teach.  Because I’m fairly new to teaching, I can struggle to sleep well before a class.  I tend to run on adrenaline during early classes, and keep my wits about me by instinct (or is that terror?) alone.  But when the group start to look as if they are enjoying themselves, and I relax a little bit, that’s when it happens. I lose the thread of a conversation.

Fatal.

According to an Ezine article I read about this, if it happens a lot it could be down to your physical health.  If you have hypertension, diabetes, or even a vitamin B12 deficiency, among other things, it has been proven to have an effect.

Which is all very well, but I believe in my case, it’s usually my own thoughts that distract me.  One of the million other things I shouldn’t be thinking about will invade my consciousness.  It could be relevant to later in the class, or it could be some silly recollection from something I did at home.  Anything, really.

How, then, do I prevent it from happening?  Well, the same article mentions online brain training games.  I actually quite like these, but the ones that will help, I hate, because I have a terrible memory and I feel bad that I can’t do very well in them.  It also says that learning a new language is a great way to keep the brain muscles in shape.

There are things we can’t do much about, such as the fact that our senses are overstimulated by our modern lives. Phones, TV, emails and endless advertising are apparently all big contributors to being so easily distracted.   Life coach Holly Worton recommends switching off such distractions – especially the internet – to get tasks done, and she’s right (though the temptation to keep things humming along in the background is still too strong for me to resist so far). Not an issue in classes, but good for day-to-day life.

Spookily enough, the e-zine article also talks about exercise.  Yes.  Again, the magic solution is exercise – apparently every mile that a woman walks per week reduces her risk of memory loss by up to thirteen percent.

Funny how everything is about exercise at the moment.  Just as well, perhaps, that I’m finally doing some.

I’d better make sure I keep it up between now and the next course, or I’ll, um…what was I saying again?

Amazingly (that is, in spite of eating huge amounts of rubbish on our camping trip), I have been sensible enough this week to lose the tiniest amount of weight since last time.

A fortnight ago, I was 12 st 1.2 lb.  Well, get out your trumpets and blow a fanfare because this morning I weighed in at … 12 st 1.0 lb.

I’m actually quite pleased about this since I weighed myself on Monday and it was considerably higher.  But, I did make it to ‘Dance & Tone’ on Wednesday night, and I have been restrained in my eating.  Somewhere along the line my insatiable appetite is diminishing.  Why? Well, it’s possible that it’s partly due to no longer breastfeeding (we were camping, she didn’t want it, I didn’t complain), but probably more likely that I’m eating REAL food.  (I have a theory that real food sustains you both physically and emotionally in a way that junk food, or processed food does not, but that’s another blog for another time.)

xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.netWhat I really wanted to say was, it’s always easy to find an excuse not to exercise.  Reading back over my Friday posts this past few months, you can find many.  Some are legitimate.  Some are a bit wimpy.

renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.netThis week I have a nasty cold.  But it’s not terrible. I don’t feel like death warmed up – or at least, I didn’t till this morning after a night of coughing -I am capable of doing some exercise.   Loved one has been in at the right moments.  I have gone to classes.  Paid in advance so I feel financially obliged to attend.  And somewhere along the line, it’s working.

I’ve even booked the gym class and creche for Monday morning, in the hope of exercising properly at least twice a week (Pilates is great, but it’s not really a calorie burner..).   If, IF, I can just sustain the momentum of keeping twice a week exercise going, I will eventually be reasonably healthy.

It’s an awfully big if.  Life can be so complicated these days.  Not only do you have to fit in around the needs of your entire family, but you are stretched to the limit to cope with daily life.  I’m not complaining, I’m just acknowledging that it’s not easy.

I do feel, though, that if you can get that regular exercise, you feel better in yourself, you are more energetic the rest of the time, the rest of your life is considerably better as a result.

I hope I’m right.

I also hope I keep overcoming those barriers.  Let’s see, shall we?

Hooray, it’s Friday.  From tonight there will be someone to share the housework and childcare with for three whole days!  (Actually, that usually means I flop and the house degenerates into chaos once more as loved one, honourable though his intentions are, attends to the dishwasher and changes a few nappies without realising that there is a little more to it than that.  And I will be cursing under my breath on Tuesday as I try and catch up.)

I’m getting sidetracked here.  It’s Friday.  And that means weighing day.  Last time I had lost a little weight through eating healthy portions, and I had tried the Dance & Tone classes.  I had been planning to get one extra bit of exercising in, dithering between gym and running.

In the end I didn’t manage any of those things.  My decision to get to the gym on my only free morning was scuppered by some appointment I’d forgotten about, loved one was away at the time of the Dance & Tone classes, and my attempts to get a babysitter failed miserably, and to top it all off I was feeling so stressed out by smallest one screaming a lot, I ate more than I should have.  The evidence is there in a packet of Pringles scoffed in one hour flat, two empty bottles of wine and a Pizza Hut receipt.

Having said that, somehow I still managed to lose a little weight! Last week I was 12 stone 2.4 lb.  Today I weighed in at 12 st 1.2 lb.  Yes, I’m still fatter than before my cheese habit got a hold over Easter, but it makes me realise that if I can suss the exercise thing, I have a hope of getting properly healthy.  Not only that, but I might be less inclined to put my hands over my ears every time smallest one screams and pick her up for a cuddle.  I know from past experience that exercise makes you feel more energetic.  I just need to make myself do it.

As you can see, this week I had a lot of excuses.  What I could have done was pick up my Davina DVD and bounce around the living room for half an hour or so.  The fact that I didn’t speaks volumes about my couch potato habits, as well as my levels of fatigue, but most of all it is rather a shining beacon highlighting my terrible self-discipline.

But there is hope. Remez Sassoon has an essay on her self-help-book-promoting-website that is actually very useful in itself.  It points out that if you keep challenging your will power and your self discipline and actually do those things you can’t be bothered to do, you will eventually get better at it.  It’s like practising an instrument.  You might be rubbish at it to start, but you will improve over time.

So perhaps this week, with all the excuses in the world at my fingertips, I will dig out that Davina DVD and bounce around the living room, and I will pick up my baby and cuddle her when she screams for the hundredth time that day.  If I can achieve it for a week, it might be easier by the time half term is over.

I did manage to weigh myself in the end…last week I was an unflattering 12 st 3.8 lb, which can only mean that back in France I was inhaling cheese in much the same way as drug addicts must inhale cocaine.  Not that I would know; I just have a very active imagination.

This week I was 12 st 2.4 lb.   A small but significant improvement.

I’m keeping up with the portion plate idea, and feeling better for it.  Only today have I lapsed due to not having time to eat a real lunch.

I did actually start the dance and tone classes, which was immense fun as well as making every part of me ache afterwards.  (Also, I do find it comforting to see other overweight people there – nothing worse than being the only fat person in an exercise class.)

So, yes, I’m fatter than I was last time I checked before the Easter holidays, but improving slowly.  And I’m slowly on the road to being unfit, a vast improvement from extremely unfit.

AKARAKINGDOMS / FreeDigitalPhotos.netI do feel that I have more to do on this front.  In the long run, if we’re lucky enough to get the house we want (and ideally the school we want too), we’ll be looking at a half-hour’a brisk walk to school every morning and afternoon, with yours truly doing the return route too. So I suspect it’ll be less of an issue.

In the meantime, though I don’t want to get complacent, and I feel that one dance exercise class and one non-aerobic Pilates class isn’t going to cut much mustard.  I like one friend’s idea of doing the Couch to 5k training programme, which happens to fit in beautifully with roughly the amount of time we expect to stay in this house.  So that might be an idea.  My other idea is to get back to the gym once a week, since they have a creche that smallest one can go to.

I can’t decide right now.  Both plans have the flaw that they only work for as long as I can be bothered to do them; there is no I’ve-paid-for-half-a-term-and-I-need-value-for-money incentive, so both will require self-discipline.  I’m going to go away and think about it.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

Everyone knows that if you want to get to a healthy weight, you need to eat less and/or exercise more.  So today I’m just going to get back down to basics and reflect on what’s going on for me in these areas.

Intake

This has been excessive, possibly more so than usual.  I have a monstrous appetite.  Yes, I’m still breastfeeding, but only a couple of times a day now.  My appetite is disproportionately huge.  It’s partly because I’m stressed about moving house.  Nevertheless, after a month or two of not monitoring what I eat, I suspect I’m moving in the wrong direction.  In fact, the only thing I have improved on and kept up since beginning this at the start of the year is drinking less alcohol.

I need to make a small goal and stick to it again, stress or no stress.  For now, I’m going to focus on eating between meals.  Unless it is planned as a social event, the only snacking I plan to do is my new weekly ‘graze‘ box; slightly better than the biscuits or chocolate I might otherwise resort to.  And tasty too – have a look at some of the things in their box.

GrazeGraze
GrazeGraze

Till the stress lessens, I’m not going to try and curtail my eating at mealtimes as currently that feels like a sacrifice too far.

So. Snacking is out.  We’ll see how that goes.

Output

I’m still doing my Pilates classes, which are great for improving strength and stability, but they really are not helping me to lose my excess weight.   Clearly I need something a little  more cardiovascular.

The Pilates is working as I have to keep it up every week, having paid in advance.  I need something with a similar format, so I can’t duck out easily.  I love dance, so to me the obvious answer is  to find a local dance class.

Of course, it’s tricky when loved one is away so much.  But Mondays seem to be OK.  In the area, so far there is street/hip hop, Zumba, and Irish dancing on a Monday night.

Can’t quite see myself blending in to  a street/hip hop class, particularly when the instructor is a hip and happening young dude and I’m an overweight, unfit, untrendy thirty-something.  Irish dancing sounds like fun, but for now I’m going to contact the Zumba instructor and see if she has any space…

I have no idea what Zumba is about, though I gather it involves dancing in an aerobic manner.  Sounds great.  Gonna give it a try.  I mean, look at the picture from the website.

Zumba Fitness

So. Two small measures to gradually improve my intake and output.  I’ll let you know how I’m getting on in a few weeks time.