Monday, 31 January 2011

Monday, good to me.

Mondays are great for new resolve. That's why the gym is always so full on Mondays. Wherever you go in the world, Monday is the biggest day in the fitness world.

What are you going to do with today?

I'm going to use it and milk that new-found enthusiasm for every single calorie that I can...

Workout track of the day: 'Misery' by Maroon 5 (100 bpm - fast cycling)

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Watching then doing

The weekend and I'm on a fantastic psycho-physiological kick today. What's that? I hear echoing through the ether.
Basically, it's watching sport on the TV.

They say watching TV is bad for you, but I think sometimes you have to give yourself a break! What's bad for you is eating while watching TV. Popcorn, chips, anything really. But the beauty of watching sport is that it makes you want to do some. So if you can avoid the munchies then you've got it made.

I started this mornin watching Kim Clijsters winning the Aussie Open tennis. The only thing to say about it is "where's the local tennis club, I want to join!" Well, there's also "Go on Andy!" but maybe that's better left for tomorrow morning...

Now its athletics and later on there's some football (soccer) on. I wonder if there is a cultural difference in watching sports between the US and the UK? Our sports tend to be more in a game of soccer, injuries notwithstanding, we have only a 15 minute break to make a cup of tea (or if you're at a match, grab a pie and a pint). Then it's back to more continuous action.
Compare that to a baseball or American football game where the actual time in play is quite a small proportion of the total time, and that total time is much longer. OK, don't bring cricket into this or it will just ruin my argument. So maybe it's the long total and all the down time during the game that leads to lots of eating temptation. Because the bad reputation of watching sports on TV and eating lots of cr@p is much stronger west of the Atlantic than it is on this side...

Personally, I'm inspired to go do something now. And definitely inspired to restart a reasonably promising tennis ability that I gave up many years ago.

Friday, 28 January 2011

The fickle friend scale

The power of a good weigh-in to improve your mood is truly amazing.
This morning I am down 4.0kg vs start point, down 1.0kg for the week. That is now a new low weight for me for the last don't-know-how-many years.
I am feeling it too. My clothes are looser, my muscles toning (I wouldn't go so far as to call them toned just yet, but they are getting there...)

I promised myself little gift rewards for every 2kg I lose - a total of 10 gifts when I make it to target.
The first promise was a cycling jacket so that I can go out in not so great weather on the new bike. I haven't bought it yet, which demonstrates a certain amount about my level of confidence about keeping that first 2kgs off. I wanted to be certain those 2kg were gone for ever (ooh err...forever seems a long time when you say it like that). I guess now that the next 2kg are gone, I can go and buy myself the first reward. I probably also need to define which rewards I'm buying for each 2kg step. My original theme was to be triathlon related articles, so that I build up to get all kit required by the time I do my first triathlon, planned for May 1st. I do need (another) decent pump for my weekday location - so I think that will be the second one.
I shall put some thought into it and make that list.
In the meantime I shall decide right here and now that my third reward, towards which I am now working, is to be a saddle pouch (for spare inner tube etc that straps under the saddle).

Am working from home today...plan is to get out to the gym at lunchtime once I've got some stuff done...the first task is already under my belt and sent off. I also have Andy Murray on in the background, so I don't really want to go out until he's finished and hopefully won (Go on ANDY!!!)

I am also reminded of what a fickle friend that scale is. This week it may be a friend, but it can so easily turn on me. I know I shouldn't let it control my moods, but after this week, I need something to cheer me up, and to be honest, I'll take anything I can get from any source I can get it!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Rest day or lazy day?

What is the difference between a rest day and a lazy day?

After my experience yesterday I've decided that it is simply the intentions you set out with in the morning.

If you set out with the intention of NOT going to the gym and then don't go, it's a rest day.

If you set out with good intentions of going to the gym, and then you don't go, then it was a lazy day.

Or, and this is also a real possibility, the expectations were too high. This opens up the third possibility that it should have been a rest day but you failed to plan it in properly.

Does it matter?
Well, for motivation purposes I think it matters a great deal. A rest day is essential sometimes. You have to listen to your body. And some days it just needs a break from pounding the pedals or the treadmill or the pavement... So a rest day is motivational, you come back the following day rested (spot the key word there?) and ready to go onwards and upwards with your exercise programme.
A lazy day however, leaves you with all those feelings of guilt and failure that not sticking to your intentions leave you with. That has a real danger of leaving you demotivated the following day and not sticking to your intentions again. That way a downward spiral and madness lies!

So, how do we deal, motivationally, with the other sort of day?
On Monday I discussed my week's training plan with my PT. I would train with him on Monday, do a cardio session Tuesday (muscle ache permitting), then rest Wednesday to come back strong on Thursday and Friday.
All was well until I let the thought creep into my mind on Wednesday morning that I MIGHT do something. Maybe a bike ride in the evening if the weather was fair (it was cold and raining when I left work). Maybe a run along the seafront (it was cold and raining when I left work). Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Well, maybe that sort of indefinite thinking is what gets me into trouble in the first place. Because today I feel demotivated by how I am feeling, and yet all I did was have the rest day I was planning at the start of the week.
Definite and specific is the way to go. So I will train this lunchtime. I will get up early tomorrow and go to the gym first thing. And I will feel good about it. And I will be motivated by it.

And then I will rest again on Saturday.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The signs are gloomy

I'm not in a great mood, and that's always bad for motivation for exercise and eating well. I have to be on my guard today and until I pull myself out of this mood.

The fact that the causes of the feelings are long-lived (8 to 10 years old) and are always bubbling under, even when they are not spilling out all over the place like right now, makes it a real problem that I guess I'm just going to have to deal with. Not only my weight loss success but in a real sense my career success (even if measured simply by keeping my job) is also on the line. It was the realisation yesterday of how I am being affected at work, and what the impact is on my bosses and colleagues of how I am, that sent me spiralling downwards.

It's amazing how quickly it can happen. I wish I knew how to get back up again so quickly...or even better to attack the real root causes of my moods and find a solution to them equally fast.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Weigh In relief

So I arrived at the gym yesterday and confessed all to my PT regarding my bad few days. We trained hard. Well, as usual, I trained hard while he counted my reps... At the end of the session we headed for the dreaded digital scales.
"Oh, they are still broken" said my PT.
"What I shame" said I. "Well, at least that gives me a day or two to correct any rebound gain before I can weigh in."

So I am excused the bad news. Or at least I have a stay of execution. It inspired me, while shopping for my weekly stay-away provisions, to only buy good protein and veggies.

Eating was so much better yesterday, and no alcohol. Again, this shows the power of blogging. If I hadn't fessed up publicly to the fact that the alcohol has such an impact on my diet, I probably wouldn't have admitted it to myself.

Plan today for a cardio session at lunchtime, plus maybe a spin on my new bike this evening, weather and leg muscle ache permitting...

Workout track of the day: 'I just haven't met you yet' by Michael Buble (walking, rowing or slow cross training pace)

Here's hoping they just haven't fixed the scales more day's grace and I should be able to face them.

Going, going, gone...

Why do I do it to myself?

On the back of such a good start, I've had 4 bad days in a row.
It all started on Thursday after I had convinced myself I wasn't eating enough. Well that just about opened the calorie floodgates, and now I've been over 3,000 calories per day for each and every one of the last 4 days. Weekends are notoriously difficult for me, but even without that, it is a minor disaster.

Thinking about this during the long drive this morning, I do believe it all traces back to Thursday night and the "Curious Incident of the Half Bottle of Wine prince in the Nightime". A few years ago now, ex-Chancellor Nigel Lawson lost loads of weight and wrote a book about it. I remember skimming it in a bookshop at the time, and reading his section on alcohol. He claimed that giving up alcohol was critical for his success - not so much for the empty calories he saved (although that didn't do any harm) - but rather for the will power it gave him. Alcohol dulled his ability to say no - to second helpings, to dessert, to more alcohol.

I believe I may have come to the point where I need to cut out alcohol completely. the combination of lack of exercise motivation and poor diet for so many days after even a small alcoholic binge is evidence enough.

And what makes it worse is that PT (and therefore weigh-in) are 2 days earlier than normal this week. And that means this afternoon. Panic! Nothing I can do, but man up and accept the bad news...

Friday, 21 January 2011

How to get motivated

I am having a real exercise motivation problem today. I should be in the gym right now but I'm here instead. Blogging instead of exercising surely can't be good for you....

There are a number of possible reasons for my motivation dip:
  • I have been training 3 days on the trot this week, something I haven't managed in a long time
  • It's Friday
  • My food diary was running a little low yesterday evening, so I got tempted into partaking of half a bottle of wine, as I could "afford" the calories
  • As a result of the 3 above, I left my kit in the car this morning instead of bringing it into the office. That seems to have grown in significance during the course of this morning.
  • My colleagues have all just disappeared to the "Golden Arches" for lunch. I am therefore feeling heroic for having said no, and have no need to be heroic any more today.
  • I have just docked my Philips DirectLife and hit 105% yesterday - that surely calls for celebration rather than more of the same.
  • I am due a weights session but still hurt from PT on Wednesday
  • I'd have to wash my kit over the weekend
  • I haven't picked a workout track of the day yet, so do not have an aching for Robbie Williams or The Feeling (in a good way, of course)
But, on the other hand:
  • 4 days on the trot would be better than 3
  • It's Friday
  • Since when could someone on a serious weight loss attempt "afford" the calories in half a bottle of wine? Who am I kidding?
  • The gym is right next door to my office. I have to walk past the gym entrance to get from my office to my car! That's more calories burned getting my kit.
  • No Big Mac is an opportunity cost kind of thing. I can be more heroic today.
  • I have just docked my Philips DirectLife and hit 86% for the week so far - that surely calls for more exercise.
  • I am due a weights session but still hurt from PT on Wednesday - so a good cardio session would loosen me up - and there's always the sauna afterwards to relieve my aches...
  • I'd have to wash my kit over the weekend - yeah but in the washing machine which let's face it does all the work. It's not like I have a washboard and scrubbing brush. (Oh and there's another argument - I don't have a washboard - stomach!)
  • I haven't picked a workout track of the day yet, but Kings of Leon (my track from the other month) is on the office radio and I can just pick one: "Alejandro" by Lady Gaga (100 bpm - fast cycling). There taht wasn't so difficult was it?
There we go. Excuses all countered. Motivation back up again. I'm off to the gym.

If only it were that easy every time motivation deserts me.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Back for good

New year...well, newish.
I have purposefully stayed away from this post for a few weeks. The months before that were not deliberate but rather laziness and shame.
No results is a sure fire way to keep you from blogging, and no blogging is a sure fire way to keep you from good results.

So, where am I?
First, the bad news. Christmas and New Year saw the culmination of a poor few months. Weight was stable (ish) until December, but the first weigh-in of January saw me at 119.9kg. Not the highest ever, but pretty much back where I have been and not very far off a record high. Probably only a 3 Big Mac evening away...

January then. I don't do New Years Resolutions. They don't work for me.
But I have made some changes:
. I have changed my diet to focus on protein and non-starchy carbs.
. I have stepped up the exercise
. I am diarizing food intake and my Philips DirectLife activity burn (added to my BMR)

So far, it's working.
From the new start point (might as well as it's not so different from any number of old start points) I am down 2.9kg at 117.0kg.
And I am feeling good. And that's why I waited. I needed some success to kick start, otherwise there was just no point.

Usually, a 3 week losing stretch is about all I can manage before I plateau or start to gain again. So I know I am at a critical tipping point.
So I am back to blogging to give me that push over the edge to make sure there is no turning back.

I heard an interview with Gary Barlow of Take That fame the other day. He turns 40 this week. The main songwriter and singer of (arguably) the UK's foremost boy (?) band turns 40. I am older than him. He was always disparagingly known as the fat one at the back who wrote the songs. I'm not going to be the fat one at the back any more.

I've lost patience with myself. No more shame. I am going to relight my fire. The flood of good weigh-ins has started and will not be held back. I will shine.

Workout track of the day: "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay (138 bpm - fast cross trainering). Bet that shocked you - expecting a different band?

This boy is BACK FOR GOOD.