Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Interval running and yoga

This morning we were doing interval training. As the venue is closer than usual, I walked there instead of riding my bike. It wasn't as cold as it has been lately, probably about 2 degrees when I set out. It got down to 0 apparently, but I was running by then, so it didn't register.

I was expecting the training to be much the same as the last time, but Krissi and Brad managed to add some more variety after the warmup. We started by jogging around the outside of the two ovals. Usually, I'm at the back of the group, but today I was in the middle and had to stop myself from going past the front runners. Most unusual for me. Mind you, I was back near the tail end when we did the rest of the running. I'm not sure if I mentioned that I seem to be coping better with the warmup run, but it is definitely getting easier. I also thought that maybe my 20 min walk had given me a bit of a headstart on the others.

The rest of the warmup consisted of a set of runs across the oval - knees up, bum kicks, sideways, grapevines and surges. I am not at all keen on surges, but I'm getting better at them. It's just as well, as the intervals that we ran were a series of surges. We jogged, surged, surged, and surged again, then did a recovery walk / jog. The first few times, we were surging down one side of the oval and recovering down the other side. Eventually we surged all the way around the oval and then recovered down one side. The last time we did intervals where we ran as fast as we could then jogged.

Krissi told me that I was moving my upper body from side to side too much, and showed me a way to move my arms to control it. I did that for the rest of the session, and it really did help. I felt like I was making less effort on the surges, even though I was definitely running faster through each section.

Last time we came to the oval, I found I couldn't run three quarters of the way around at a faster pace without dropping back to a walk, so I was really pleased to be able to manage to get the whole way around without stopping. I've made it a policy during this journey to a fitter and healthier me that I will remember to notice improvements and to celebrate them, no matter how small they are. I'm glad I adopted the policy, as I get so many opportunities to be pleased with my progress. Even something simple like being able to bend over and pick something up is worth a happy smile and a feeling of quiet achievement.

I walked home. I felt a little stiff and sore on the walk and that feeling continued all day. While I'd been running I'd noticed that my right calf was quite tight. Of course, I kept running but I made sure I stretched it out well. After a few hours, the tightness had transferred itself to my hamstring, which was a relief, as I had been worried I'd hurt my calf. I was really looking forward to Yoga this evening for the stretching.

At the start of the class I told the instructor that I wasn't injured but I was very sore after Body Attack. I wanted her to understand why this week I was suddenly klutzy. She asked me where I was sore and told me we'd be doing lots of hamstring work during the session. She also advised me to touch my toe down if I wasn't able to balance, but fortunately I managed most of the poses.

The stretches were great! During the class I found myself feeling better and better. One thing that amazes me is that I can work up a sweat during Yoga. I certainly feel my abs after class too.

Now that I'm home I'm starting to feel some of my sore muscles again, but it's what my first personal trainer, Kelly, would have called "good pain". I used to think that was a ridiculous thing to say but I now know exactly what Kelly meant. It is "good pain".

I'm trying to work out whether I'd be better to take a rest day tomorrow or go to the gym in the morning. I guess it depends what I do when I get there. I'll decide when I wake up. Thursday, I have my personal training session. If I'm up to it, there's another Body Attack class. I'll see how I'm travelling.

By the way, thanks ladies for telling me about the Enell bra. It looks pretty impressive. I think I'll have to give it a go.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Body Attack

I took Jaykay's advice and gave Body Attack a go. It was great advice. The class wasn't too crowded, and I was the only beginner. There was another lady about my age and everyone else was young and thin. I was hoping my cardio fitness was up to the challenge. Fortunately, it was.

The instructor explained that it was ok to do the low impact version of the exercises and to do the exercises without the arms. She also told us that there were two blocks of cardio, and if we weren't fit enough, we could bale after the first block. I thought she was saying that for my benefit, but some people did leave half way through.

It's always interesting doing a new class. They all seem to start off at different paces. Today, we did a couple of stretches, really fast, and then we were into it. Totally different to Yoga and Body Balance. The instructor talked about the low impact option, but she always started off high impact. In most cases, it wasn't until she saw people struggling that she'd show the low impact option.

There was a lot of jumping in the first fifteen minutes, and I ended up having to take an emergency toilet break. That's never happened to me in a class before. I think I would have struggled on until half time and left then, but luckily someone else dashed out to get water, so I figured I could dash out too. I apologised to the instructor after the class, and she told me about a move in the last program that she had to take the low impact option for because it affected her the same way. The other thing that I'll know for next time is to wear a more supportive bra. Usually my standard sports bra is fine for the gym but not today.

The second half of the program had a fair bit of running in it, and some agility work. I was thanking the running course as I did really well in this section. I also managed to do the high impact option most of the time, and there were only a couple of times I didn't do the arm movements. There was one move that was particularly satisfying for me. I used to do walk aerobics at home, and I had a walk / jog program that included a kind of kicking to each side and swapping feet move. I used to just jog through that on the DVD as my knees weren't up to it. I have no idea what to call it, but we did exactly the same move today in the class, and I was able to do it comfortably.

The calorie burn for the class was excellent. I'll definitely go back and do this one again.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Weights and Body Balance

I headed to the gym tonight, trying to work out what sort of work out I'd do. I was invited to a cookware party and I was in a bit of a dilemma about being a good guest and arriving on time, or going to Body Balance and being late. I chose the 'almost a good guest' option by phoning ahead to say I was running late. I also didn't tell the hostess that I'd chosen a gym class rather than arriving on time.

I realised that I couldn't get through my whole program and get to the class, so I opted to do half of it, and hopefully do the other half tomorrow. You get an abs workout in Body Balance, so I skipped them without feeling guilty.

I've been trying to work my butt when I'm doing lunges. I have to really think about it, so I'm not sure I'm getting it. At the moment I'm doing static lunges with one foot on a step while I hold a weights bar between my legs. By the time I've positioned my feet, set my shoulders, locked my abs on, remembered to breathe and relaxed, clenching my butt seems like one too many things for me to do.

I felt like I was on top of the triceps exercise today, so I might put the weight up. I'm lowering that one towards my forehead while I lie back on the bench, so I want to be very sure that I can manage the weight. Going around with a bar shaped indentation in my forehead isn't a good look. I use the same weight for bicep curls straight after, and they are well under control. I was even remembering to control the bar on the way back down when I got to the end of the second set, so I've got room to move there.

The classroom for Body Balance was a little cold, and I had forgotten to take a long-sleeved top with me, so I was relieved that I warmed up fairly quickly. It amazes me that you can get warm doing a few Tai Chi moves. They are so graceful that I expect them to be effortless. I was definitely doing better with the balance moves today. I'm only wobbling a little as opposed to a lot. I even managed to get through the odd routine without touching down.

I'm very glad I did Yoga before I did Balance. In Yoga, it seems to me that you take longer to get into a pose and you hold if for longer. In Balance you move from pose to pose quite quickly. I think it would be easy to hurt yourself. Speaking of which, I had to pull out of a Swan pose as my right knee seemed too stretched. I think I was in the wrong position as I didn't have the same problem with my left knee. Mind you, it's taken me a while to work out what to do with the Swan pose. It finally clicked last week.

We did quite a lot of lower back work and my back is tired now. Typically I don't have back problems, although, like most people who work at a pc, I carry tension in my back. I don't remember ever working so hard on my back before. My inelegant bum lifts on the fitball work my butt and my lower back, but that's pretty much it as far as I remember. It was a good workout.

The other thing I like is that we do a fair bit of twisting. As a driver, that's important. I can see a real difference in how far I can turn towards the back to look over my shoulder now. That's got to be good.

Tomorrow I'm going bush walking in the afternoon. I am planning to run in the morning, but I have to decide if I'll meet up with the girls and run around East Basin (16 km) or if I'll run to work and back to see what it's like (10 km). I'm leaning towards the 10 km run.

I've definitely decided against City to Surf and I've booked myself to come home to Melbourne that weekend. Once I made the decision not to go I wasn't so daunted about running, so I think it was the right choice for me.

I discovered today that there's a clash with the Canberra Times Fun Run and the first Spring into Shape session. I think I'll do the Spring into Shape run though, as that weekend is when I'd like to celebrate my birthday with my family. I thought I'd do the Runner’s World Run it Off Challenge and use the last of the SIS runs as my run. Anyway, that's the current plan. As ever, it's subject to change. :-)

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Hill Running and Yoga

This morning I went running as planned. It certainly is easier to get out of bed when you know you are meeting someone. The "warmer" weather was an added bonus. It was 2 degrees when I left home and it only got down to 0 today.

We had an adventure before we started running. The group was meeting at the bottom of Red Hill Lookout Road. One of the women who was joining us drove into a ditch when she was parking. We tried pushing her out, but we couldn't get any leverage with one of the wheels. Fortunately, someone had a four wheel drive. A quick phone call to their partner, asking them to bring recovery gear, and it was all sorted. I'm a "call the RACV" driver so I was very impressed by the competence displayed by the various parties involved in the rescue.

As you will have gathered from the name of the road, the hill leads to a lookout. You get fantastic views of Canberra up there, not that I spent much time looking at them this morning. I'm not sure how much elevation we gained on the run, but the hill is 725 m high and Canberra's elevation is 580 m, so it will be 145 m at the most. We ran a total of about 4 km today, which included our warm up run at the base of the hill and one and a half trips up to the top and back, so I figure the hill run was about 1 km long.

I was really pleased with the run. When we started, we'd been advised to take it slowly. Brad suggested we bound if we were able, but told us not to worry about it if it was too much to think about. I tried it at the start, and it did feel good, but all too soon I was focussed on putting one foot in front of the other and breathing.

To my surprise, I ran quite a way before I dropped to a walk break. Before I stopped the first time, I picked a landmark ahead and reached it. I took that approach for the rest of the run. I aimed to make the running sections longer than the walking sections. For example, I'd run two catseyes and walk one. I also tried to keep the pace up while I was walking.

It was such a good feeling to get to the top. Lola ran the whole way up, and I arrived with her, so I felt like I made good time, all things considered. Running down was a blast! It seemed like a long way down, which made us realise just how far we'd come up. When we were all at the bottom, Brad and Krissi turned us around to start all over again. I hadn't expected that, but I was happy to do it. I was quietly proud of that, as it meant that I was feeling strong and that I was in a good space mentally.

Before we reached the turnaround point Brad told us that he'd like us to try to surge the last bit. I was following the others up the hill, thinking I didn't have a surge in me. When I got close Krissi was encouraging me to take off, and my feet just went. I powered up the last little bit of the run, totally surprised that I was capable of going any faster. I had a moment of madness where I was going to suggest that we run the rest of the way to the top, but I managed to keep my mouth shut.

At the end of the run we did our stretching and you could tell people were on a real high. It took a while before people started to leave.

My legs have felt progressively more tired as the day has worn on. At the moment I'm feeling stiff and sore. A hot shower before I go to bed sounds like a plan. I was glad it was Yoga tonight, as the stretching really helps. That's why I first went to Yoga.

Tonight Michelle didn't tell us what type of Yoga we were doing so I stayed back after class and asked. It was a combination of style, and was kind of a Power Yoga thing. I'm keeping track, in case I ever decide to find a yoga class outside the gym. Tonight's session really flowed. Not so much of the downward dog but plenty of good stretches and balancing work. I'm definitely getting better at the balance work.

I got the spot in the front and centre of the class, which was terrific, as I had a great view of what Michelle was doing. I did have a moment's anxiety about everyone seeing what a klutz I was, but I quickly got over it.

On the home front, Dad is out of hospital and is recovering well. He sounds in excellent form. Mum has gone into hospital overnight and she will be having her angiogram in the morning. She should be home tomorrow. I'm going to stay at home tomorrow night, instead of in a hotel. I know it's a little antisocial on the work front as I'm travelling with a colleague, but I explained the situation to them and they understand.

Thanks for all your well wishes. They are much appreciated.

Oh, and JayKay .. I'll give Body Attack a go. After all, if I can run up Red Hill I can survive an energetic gym class.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Weights program

I headed off to the gym on my way home from work. Because my bus trip is so much shorter now, I'm getting to the gym when it's busier. That meant that I had to work around the "amazing abs" class, which was using all the mats and fitballs. I can manage without a mat, but the fitball is kind of essential for my two fitball exercises.

The problem with changing the order of the exercises is that you tire as you go. I ended up doing my arm exercises before the two fitball exercises, and so my poor old arms were already worn out! I'm sure I'm going to feel it tomorrow. Mind you, Leanne always likes to see my muscles shaking, so I'm sure she would have been pleased.

While the "amazing abs" class were doing their stuff I was checking out the class. In the past, I was always really glad that I hadn't gone along to it, but I'm starting to get delusions of ability. Before you know it, I'll be signing up for half an hour of torture. I nearly gave Body Attack a trial today too. If I'm not careful I'll be heading back to RPM!

I've got running tomorrow. We're heading up Red Hill. I don't know how far we'll go but it is definitely going to be challenging. Lola is kindly picking me up, as it's a little too far for me on the bike at that time of day.

I still don't have unescorted building access so I haven't tried walking, running or riding to work yet. It's "nearly there" I'm told. I'm starting to think about how I organise this - I'll have to get some work clothes and toiletries to work, figure out what I'm doing about all the abolutely essential stuff I carry in my handbag, and so on. This should be interesting.

I have to travel to Melbourne for work this week, which means I'll be missing my personal training session. I'm not going to cancel it until the tickets are booked, as I've been told that I'm travelling a couple of times already and it hasn't happened. I'm glad it's on the cards for this week though, as both my parents are having heart maintenance. Dad had an angioplasty and a stent inserted today and Mum is having an angiogram on Wednesday, in preparation for a heart valve replacement. They are both being really brave. The breaking news is that Dad's procedure went well and he is in good form. I'll be able to see them for myself, which is always reassuring.

I think it's fabulous that the two of them can get treatment that will improve their quality of life so much. We really are lucky to live in Australia. Mind you, I'm trying not to take that luck for granted. One of the reasons I realised I had to do something about my health was that I am so much like my mother. I see the health problems she has been experiencing with her diabetes and I would prefer not to have them too.

Please God they will both recover well and quickly.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

A quiet weekend

This weekend my exercise was fairly low key. I went for a walk with my sister, Janet, on Saturday morning, then headed off with my sister, Trish, this morning to walk the dog and to watch one of my nephews play football. This afternoon, I realised that my niece and nephew were looking for something to do while they were visiting so I suggested that we go for a walk around Kororoit Creek. The creek is quite a lot of fun for kids, with a couple of playgrounds, stepping stones, rocks to climb, ducks to feed, and trees to hide amongst, so they were happy to come along with me.

Laura was running on ahead while Michael was busy describing, in excruciating detail, the pedometer his dad had given him recently. While listening to Michael explain the seven different functions of his whizz-bang pedometer I was watching Laura, who was having a great time running and skipping ahead of us. It reminded me of something I'd read in my Chi Running book, about how much fun kids have when they run. They don't worry about what they are wearing or whether or not they have the right shoes on. They just run.

Just as Michael established that, along with all its other functions, the pedometer did count steps, I saw Laura running down one of the hills. I had this incredible feeling of envy as it looked like she was having such a good time. Suddenly I realised that it didn't matter that I was wearing my jeans; the only thing stopping me from joining her was me. I asked Michael if he'd like to run down the hill too. The two of us immediately took after her, and the tone for the walk was set. I challenged them to run across the bridge and up the hill. Off we went. We mixed up running and walking with heading off the path down to the creek and clambering over rocks.

I was absolutely stoked. It was probably only twelve months earlier that I was just starting to run, and I remember puffing and panting when I ran a short distance with some of my nephews. I also remember the kids playing up amongst a group of rocks that make great forts, while I jogged determinedly around them, building up some distance. Today, I was having a ball, running around like I was a big kid too. We passed a few people who looked a little bemused to see an adult tearing up the hill from the creek or running back down again.

I did the last part of the run with Laura staying well behind us, yelling out "I don't know either of you" and Michael running on ahead trying to make sure that the aeroplane didn't take his head off. Yes, I was the aeroplane.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Body Balance

It's been really cold today. When I got to the gym I was freezing. Luckily I had a long-sleeved thermal top in my gym bag, so I put it on and headed for the treadmill. I only had 10 minutes so I started slowly to warm up and increased the pace each minute. I then headed back to the change room and got rid of the thermal top before heading off to Body Balance.

I've learned that you can get quite hot in Yoga and Body Balance, even though the movements are slow and controlled. You can also feel quite sore afterwards. My abs hurt more after Body Balance than they do after anything else.

I definitely like Yoga better than Balance, but there's only one Yoga class a week at my gym, so I'll keep going along to both.

After class there was a Tupperware party at the gym. I'm a bit of a Tupperware queen, so I decided to stick around for it. I managed to get out of there with a single purchase of something that I really need, which was a relief.

It's still cold, so I'm off to bed. Oh, and I didn't get up and exercise this morning - the toasty warm bed won!

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Progress and fun

When I got to personal training this morning Leanne asked me what two things would I like to achieve out of today's session. Needless to say, I hadn't thought about it like that so she gave me time to come up with something. I decided I'd like to see what progress I'd made and have fun.

Leanne decided we'd focus on my legs. We started off with sumo squats while tossing a medicine ball. This was a great exercise to measure my progress as last time I'd tried sumo squats I'd felt pain in my left knee almost immediately. My knee is my "early warning system", letting me know when I've worked a little too hard. For months now, Leanne has been giving me exercises to strengthen the tendons around my knee. That's what the one legged squats and the stability work I've been doing were all about. Not only did I feel fine when we did the exercises, this evening there's no tiredness in my knee.

After the squats, Leanne checked out my balance. This involved stepping up onto a bench and lifting my knee through as part of the move, then swapping legs. In the past, this exercise also caused problems. It was half of the exercise that I dubbed the chicken. I was able to do 20 of these with confidence. I also did them quite quickly, which surprised both of us.

We did a few exercises for my glutes and hamstrings and checked out a couple from my program that I wasn't sure I was doing the right way. We finished with some difficult situps that I managed to get through and then did some stretches. I love it when Leanne assists the stretches. Mission accomplished - we got to see progress and we had fun.

Other than that, the only exercise I had today was walking. I had been going to meet up with a friend for a drink after work, so I'd decided to try to hit my net calorie target by managing my food rather than through exercise today. My plans were cancelled which meant that I could get to the gym but I chose to stick with the food plan if I could. I also cooked up a storm this evening, which means I have plenty of healthy food choices for the next week. All that I have to do now is work out how to fit the containers into the freezer.

I bumped into one of the women from the gym on the way to work this morning, which made my bus trip enjoyable. When we were parting company at the security desk (I still don't have building access) she paid me a lovely compliment. I tried to brush it off, but she persisted until she managed to say what she wanted. I won't go into details but in effect she told me that I seemed to show up when she was having a bad day and needed rescuing. I thought it was really kind of her to say so. I know I have an optimistic outlook on life and occasionally hope that I don't drive people too insane by being postive and cheerful. It's good to hear that she appreciates it.

Oh, I've been mentioning the cold weather a bit lately. I find it irresistible to talk about the subzero temperatures I'm encountering here in Canberra, especially when people from warmer climates are complaining. The thing to remember is that it's all relative. Some of your comments sound more impressed by my hardiness than I believe is warranted. The Group Outdoor Fitness Challenge helped me to acclimatise early. From the challenge, I learned that once you get out there, if you're wearing the right clothes, you adjust pretty fast to the temperature. The suggestion of a balaclava is a good one. I think I'll pursue that idea. Now that I can run, maybe I can make a fast getaway!

We did have snow forecast on Wednesday but it all came to nothing. From a forecast of temps between 0 and 5, we ended up with a temperature range from 2 to 10. Mind you, I'd carefully stayed inside. It was actually colder this morning, getting down to -3, but I only had my usual 10 minute walk to and from the gym to face. It takes 6 mins when it's cold or I'm running late for an appointment.

Tomorrow I want to get myself out of the house to exercise without having someone waiting for me. Now that will be a challenge. I've checked the weather and it's going to be frosty and foggy. I'll head to the gym if I manage to drag myself out of my warm bed. Body Balance is on tomorrow night, so that's on the agenda as well.

Just an update on how I'm managing with my eating - it's going really well, although it didn't feel like it yesterday. I had a rest day and so was focussing on keeping my calorie count down. I got stuck in one of those social obligation situations, where someone has gone to the trouble to feed you, so you feel as though you have to eat what they have provided, even though it's not something you would have chosen for yourself. Anyway, I made the choice to eat the offered food, and when I got myself home and worked out the calorie count it hadn't been as bad as I'd thought. My net calorie target is an average across a week, which means I don't have to be perfect every day, and I'm well on track to achieve it.

I've also started to keep a detailed food diary. How long that will last I don't know, but it's a real eye opener. I know that eating when I'm distracted is a bad habit. I just didn't realise how often it happens during the day. I'm also keeping better track of my water intake and I've definitely got that "confuse thirst with hunger" thing going.

My goal is to work on reducing the amount of emotional eating I'm doing. I haven't felt ready to cope with this problem before now. I've recently realised that I have to address it or I'll undo all my good work. There's no way I want that to happen so now is the time!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Cycling, running and yoga

Today was a great exercise day. I cycled out to the running course this morning, and went to yoga this evening. I also did really well with my eating, which is always easier on days where you burn a lot of calories.

I was so determined to get to running this morning that I had trouble sleeping. I woke up several times during the night. It was a relief when the alarm finally went off. One of the things that bothered me last week was getting changed out of my cycle gear, so I decided to pass on wearing bike pants. Instead I wore my Skins and some running pants. It had the advantage of giving me two bottom layers when I was running. The forecast min was -2, it was -3 when I left home, and the min temp for the day was -5, which would have occurred while I was out running. Brrrr!

I read some "winter gear" advice somewhere last week, which basically suggested two top layers for 5 degrees, so I added an extra one to run in, then wore a jacket and a bike jacket over the top of all that for my ride. I was busy telling myself that I'd survived the -3 degree morning during the Group Outdoor Fitness Challenge so I'd be fine, but I just read back and discovered that it had only reached 0. Not only that, I got a lift last time! This time I was on the bike, which adds a wind chill factor. As anyone who rides, the wind blows straight into your face. I was also wishing I'd worn my running gloves under my bike gloves as my hands were cold. Fortunately, I was warm everywhere else, and my backside survived not wearing proper cycling knicks.

My cycling has improved as I got to Lennox Gardens earlier than I'd expected. Fortunately for me, Lola was also early, and kindly offered me a seat in her car while we waited. That was a huge bonus.

When Brad arrived with Krissi, I had a moment's "oh no, what will I do?" as I'd been relying on Krissi being there. I quickly remembered that Brad and Krissi had both been terrific with me, so I decided that I'd be fine. Sure enough, when we split up into groups for the fartlek, Brad straight away partnered up with me, which was really reassuring. Another girl, Samantha, was with us. Krissi had told me that there was a beginner in the group, so I figured she was the one.

We headed off for a warm up run, and I found myself running along easily instead of puffing and panting as I'd expected. The warm up is always done at a slow pace, but I was extra comfortable during it. I've been noticing that I keep up with the group much better now, and I find it a great way to get started. Brad explained how the fartlek would work, which had me anxious again for a little while. I'd thought that it went fast, slow, fast, slow, but I discovered that it could go fast, faster, faster. Mind you, as a group we were taking turns suggesting a point to run to and a pace to go at, and Brad made sure Samantha and I realised that it was ok to choose a slower pace. Like most people, I have this idea that I have three paces - walk, run slowly and try to run fast (also known as almost dying). With the fartlek we were choosing 50%, 60% etc so I figure I have a whole range of paces now. They all feel different too. I'd had the misconception that it wouldn't matter what the percentage was, I'd be running at one of my three paces.

When we got to the turnaround time, Brad sent us back and ran on to collect the other groups. On the way back, Samantha said to me "you're a machine, you never stop" which, little did she know it, was great for my self-confidence. I'd felt like I was running well, but it was really nice to have someone else say so. Isn't it amazing how often you end up hearing what you really needed to hear? Another good thing was that the other groups didn't pass us on the way back. All up we ran for about 35 minutes. I think we probably covered around 4 - 4.5 km.

To give you an idea of how cold it was, when I got back to my bike it was covered in frost! I rubbed the frost off with my gloves, but I definitely had a cold backside for a few minutes. A woman from another running group who was getting into her car told me she was really impressed that I was out on my bike in this weather, which was another confidence building remark.

It was so good to get under a hot shower when I arrived home!

This evening I headed off to the gym in the rain. I was walking along, rugged up again, thinking that exercising in Canberra requires a certain amount of perseverance in winter. Mind you, once I was in the gym it was lovely and warm.

Yoga was really enjoyable. I am definitely getting more flexible, but there's still so much room for improvement. We did lots of balancing today. Michelle mentioned Dru Yoga, so I imagine that's the flavour of yoga we were doing. I enjoyed it as ever, but I do find myself thinking of Celeste during the classes. I'm getting better at the Downward Dog, but some of the transitions to other poses are a real challenge.

We learned something amusing tonight. We were doing a stretch when you sit with the soles of your feet together and lower your knees. If you say yes, you can lower your knees further. Try it. It works.

Oh, one more confidence building thing happened. One of the other members came up to talk to me at the gym today. When she did her first RPM class a little over 12 months ago she was brand new and didn't bring any water, so I shared my water with her. For that reason, she noticed me around the place. She was doing Yoga today and we were waiting for the previous class to finish, so she took the opportunity to tell me that she'd noticed how good I was looking and how much I'd changed since she first met me. It was a great reminder that I've come a long way over the past 12 months. I'm glad she took the time to speak to me.

Another great day foodwise. Things are turning around. :-)

Monday, 16 July 2007

Weights and back on track foodwise

I was at the gym to do my weights session tonight. I was all organised this morning. It wasn't until I left the apartment building that I realised I'd left my shoes behind, which kind of defeated the whole purpose of carrying my backpack to work. I was going to go back for them, but I realised that going back for them after work would be extra exercise.

I'm enjoying this weights program. It seems to be a much better calorie burner than my previous programs. Tonight, I was burning 5 cal/min for the hour session, instead of the normal 3. I think it's the balancing. I'm working more muscles than usual.

I didn't do any of my planned exercise for the weekend. It was too cold. Well, that's what I told myself, but I think the real reason is was a combination of the poor eating choices I've been making lately and my lack of running. My clothes are making it clear to me that I have put on weight, which has been really depressing me, especially after working so hard to lose it in the first place.

I've been incredibly anxious about my eating lately, which I think is a deep down fear that I'll put the whole 40 kg back on. I've also been anxious about not running. Because running has been so much part of losing weight for me, I think I'm mixing it all up in my head.

Anyway, writing down that I'm going running clearly hasn't been enough to get me out there, so I made the decision to go back to basics with my exercise and weight loss regime. In fact, I'm going a step further. I used to write all my food and exercise down every day, but that was all I wrote down. Now I'm going to record a lot more info - what time I eat, how I'm feeling, what I'm planning to eat, my food and exercise goals. I figure the information might help me to deal with the emotional eating I've been doing.

I started today, and I'm feeling really good about it.

The other smart thing I did today was tell my running coach that I'm feeling really anxious about going running tomorrow. I admitted to her that I'd gotten myself dressed and was about to jump on my bike when I pulled the pin last week. I wanted to let her know how I was feeling and tell her that I fully intended to get myself there tomorrow morning. I hoped that telling her what was going on in my head would help me realise that I didn't have to build the run up into something I wasn't going to be able to do. Needless to say, I received heaps of encouragement from Krissi, and I feel much better about tomorrow's session than I did earlier.

Asking for help isn't really my style, so I'm pleased that I was able to overcome my natural inclination to struggle on alone. I think that seeing people share their problems in the forums and via their blogs has made me realise that there's nothing wrong with asking for help. There's so much encouragement out there in the running community.

I just realised that I called Krissi my running coach. I know it's only a handful of sessions, but hey, I have a coach!

Anyway, I have an early start in the morning, so I'm off to bed. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I get to tomorrow's session. It's going to be -2 tomorrow morning, with frost and fog. Not as cold as the weekend, but still cold. I'll be wearing lots of layers.

EDIT: (Sorry Sara, I didn't think.)

After I got home this morning, I added the following comment:

I did it. I got there! I didn't just survive - I enjoyed it. And it was -3 degrees when I left home.

I feel terrific. I love this runner's high. :-)

Friday, 13 July 2007

Weights and Body Balance

I went to the gym after work today. I was very close to giving it a miss and meeting up with some friends for a drink, but I managed to resist temptation. That was the second time for the day, as we had a work lunch, and I successfully asked them to hold the chips that were going to accompany my steak. Mind you, I crashed and burned foodwise this evening, but the chips were a definite victory.

Weights were on the agenda tonight. It's been a couple of weeks since I did my program, and it was good to get back into it. I was feeling a little sore from my personal training. My knees were tired and my pecs were hurting today, so stretching was definitely on the agenda. I worked my way through the first part of my program and then went to fill up my water bottle. As I went past reception, I noticed one of the class instructors reading the class timetable. The light in the room behind her was off, and I realised that she was about to lead a Body Balance class. Given that I had missed Yoga and that I wanted to do some stretching, I decided to ditch the rest of my weights program (arms and abs) and give the class a go.

It was a smart move. I enjoyed the class. I like the Yoga class better, but Body Balance wasn't too bad. I certainly did some good stretching, and I got to do some abs work which made up for missing that part of my weights program. Which reminds me - I had to giggle at lg's comment on yesterday's one legged plank re my abs being amazing. It's all relative, isn't it? I see myself struggling with abs work and not being able to do what I see other people doing. Even though I try to pay attention to how far I've come over the past couple of years, sometimes I forget. It was good be reminded - yes, it is amazing that I can do that.

I haven't got much planned for the weekend, which is out of character for me. Seeing that I have so much 'free' time, I want to go for a run, a bike ride and a swim. I'm going walking up Mt Pleasant with Alex on Sunday. Hopefully we'll do better than we did with our walk to the Telstra Tower a couple of weeks ago, when we missed Black Mountain! Alex insists that it was me who missed it, as she wanted to go left not right. I think I have to concede that one.

We're having frost each morning, so I think I'll be starting a bit later than usual. Fortunately, the days are meant to be sunny. I'm hoping to get two bike rides in, which will be an achievement for me. I'll ride over to meet Alex for our walk, so one of them is guaranteed. Leonie will be going skiing and then overseas, so I've lost my riding companion for the rest of winter. At least it will give me a chance to get fit enough to keep up with her. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but Leonie is 20 years older than me and I struggle to catch up with her. It's inspiring to see how fit and active she is.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Personal training

This morning I had my regular personal training session, which was a real bonus as that 6 am appointment got me out of bed and to the gym. I've really struggled with motivation lately. My most spectacular crash and burn was getting dressed to go to the running course on Tuesday and then piking. I was standing by my bike, thinking about the hassle of getting out of my cycling gear before the run, and I just decided not to go.

At least it was a different story this morning. As usual, I was well rugged up. I felt a little like a Sara Lee pastry - layer upon layer upon layer. I headed out the door to find it wasn't as cold as I had thought it would be. The reason quickly became apparent. The fog was quite dramatic, adding a mysterious atmosphere to the walk down to the gym. Fortunately, there were other early risers out and about so it wasn't too spooky.

I was at the gym so early that I was turning on lights in the dressing room. That's a first for me. I removed all the layers and headed out to the weights room. After a warm up on the treadmill Leanne had me doing lunges. I had to lunge then jump to swap legs and lunge again. I don't think the lunges were up for much, but it was certainly a challenge. Then I was standing on one leg and kicking sideways with the other. I repeated the two exercises and then I was more than happy to swap over to upper body.

Leanne set me up on the Smith machine doing chest presses with a difference. After lifting the weight I had to push it up, let go and then catch it on the way back down. It looked easy, but the catch really had my arms working. I can feel the effects now. Straight after the chest press I was doing pushups. They were hard work. Leanne then set up a series of four barbells and had me do a body pump move - a clean and jerk followed by a row, four sets of twenty with the weight increasing each time. The first three sets were easy, but the fourth started to test me.

We moved on to abs work. My abs are much stronger and so when we got to the plank, Leanne wanted me to try it with one leg in the air. I was able to do it, which was pretty cool, but I wasn't able to just swap legs in the middle of the time period. I had to reset. A bit of stretching afterwards, and I was heading home. It seemed a lot chillier on the way home, so I was glad I'd brought all those layers with me.

I've had more visitors from Melbourne this week. My sister brought my Irish cousin and my niece along to visit me. It was great to see them. The only downside was that they arrived when I would normally have been going to yoga. I didn't think it would be too polite to dash off to the gym so I heroically sacrificed my yoga session and took them to dinner instead. They went home this morning after breakfast.

I've been doing some serious thinking about my running. I realised I've been thinking that I've lost my running mojo, which is a pretty negative mindset. I've been building up my next run into something really difficult. At least I've woken up to what was going on. I'm going to aim to stop myself when I start thinking that way, and tell myself that I'm looking forward to my next run. I'm also going to start out small and just get myself out there.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Walking in the Rain

I had a busy weekend, with visitors from Melbourne, a cookware party on Friday night and dinner with Team Black to celebrate the Biggest Loser Challenge and the 40th birthday of our trainer, Krissi. Instead of heading to the gym on Saturday morning, I ended up going for a long walk with my brother and his family. Jim and Debbie are also participating in the Global Corporate Challenge, so they were happy to collect steps with me.

Being from Melbourne, my visitors weren't expecting the icy cold wind, so I made sure they were well rugged up. Fortunately for them, it wasn't as bitterly cold as it was last Wednesday. Mind you, it started raining as soon as we headed out. As it was only a light drizzle we decided to venture down to the lake anyway. My three nephews took a football with them, and had a few kicks with Jim along the way. By the time we reached the lake the rain was heavier, so we headed for the cafe at the bike hire kiosk and enjoyed a coffee while we waited for it to ease.

We walked around the lake towards the Captain Cook Memorial. I have gone past it a number of times, but it was good to spend a bit of time checking it out. On my bike adventures with Leonie I'd discovered a children's playground that looked like a fortified castle. We had no idea if it would appeal to the boys but we thought we'd check it out anyway. It ended up being pretty cool, with tunnels for them to crawl through and ladders to climb. Without the rain it would have been a lot more fun. Once they'd had enough, we fed the ducks before returning to town. All up, we walked about 7 kms, which was a pretty good effort.

Last night I joined Team Black for dinner. We had a lovely evening. We'd contributed to a parachute jump for Krissi's birthday. She jumped that morning, and had the DVD to share with us after dinner. Her excitement was terrific to see.

The next big challenge for the team is City to Surf. I'm having second thoughts about doing it. I'll have to make up my mind soon. I'm not sure if it's really a goal of mine or if I'm doing it for all the wrong reasons (eg peer pressure). Anyway, I'll give it some serious thought over the next week and make a decision. It's not just whether to run or not. I have to think about whether I'm going to stay in Sydney or not. Apparently the ACT Cross Country Club takes a bus up there.

It looks as though the group is going to up the ante on the training we're doing though. Next year, some of us are going to train for a small triathlon - something along the lines of a 300 m swim, 5 k run and 12 k bike ride. It will mean three training sessions a week, one in each discipline. I'm keen to give this a go, so keen in fact that I headed out and bought myself swimming goggles today. I've worked out where I am going to go swimming. There's a club near my place with a pool and gym. I don't care about the gym as I'm happy at Fernwood, but the pool is much less crowded than the city pool. All I have to do is join the club and get myself there!

I also bought myself a yoga mat today - a pretty purple one. I thought I'd miss next week's class, due to travelling for work, but the work trip fell through again. I was secretly pleased about that, as I have visitors arriving from Melbourne mid-week, and it looked as though I'd be away for part of their stay.

This week, I have running training on Tuesday and personal training on Thursday. Last week, Leanne was sick, so my pt session was cancelled. I didn't make it to the gym in the morning on my own. I'm going to try to get there more often this week. That's the plan!

I am planning to get myself back on the straight and narrow as far as my eating and exercising is going. I was looking at the before and after photos from the Biggest Loser Challenge today and there is such a difference in how I look. I realised that I don't want to waste all that effort. I'll have to set myself another 12 week challenge for my health and fitness.

Funnily enough, even though I'm not getting myself out there to exercise I'm still thinking like a runner. I just have to make sure I behave like one.

Oh, something unexpectedly nice happened last week. I joined a work challenge in my last job - all sorts of different activities for points, like eating fruit and drinking water. They let me continue to participate after I left work so I've been sending through my lists each week. Apparently I won the monthly prize for June. It was for the most activities. I got a certificate and the prize was a pack that included a skipping rope, some hand weights and some hand presses. Pretty cool really.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007


I haven't been feeling like exercising this week, but I made the effort and got myself to yoga tonight. I'm really enjoying it. Now that I've been a few times, I'm going to have to buy myself a yoga mat.

Michelle starts the session off with some safety information and tells us bits and pieces of info about what is going on with our abs. It's really interesting, and it's handy to be able to recognise when you're working the transverse abs rather than the rectus abs or the obliques.

We were doing Kundalina Yoga today. Michelle likes to mix up the various types of yoga. The name didn't mean anything to me, but basically the lesson didn't flow from one move to the other. Instead it involved various exercises. We started off working on releasing anger, and then moved on to other stuff, but I was too busy trying to do the exercises to keep up with the explanations.

Funnily enough, given that it was the mind/body/breathing stuff that put me off yoga in the first place, I'm enjoying the visualisations and the breathing routines. Today though, I kept forgetting about the breathing as I found the exercises a little challenging. Last week the visualisation obviously had quite an impact on me, as I told a number of people about it. Don't panic - I'm not going to write it up in the blog. I did find it really relaxing though.

We did this cool exercise where we punched ourselves. Sounds weird, doesn't it, but those of you who self-massage would understand why I enjoyed it. We were punching along our ITB, thigh and inner thigh. It felt really good. I'll definitely do that one on my own.

On the general exercise front, I headed off to walk to work yesterday, but I realised that I was going to end up too hot and sweaty. I am going to have to wear exercise gear to work if I'm going to do the walking / running commute. Until my building access is sorted, having a shower at work is going to be a major hassle. The shower is on a different floor and I'm not allowed roam around the building without an escort at the moment.

I thought I'd walk home, but I wasn't feeling well later in the day so I piked. I also decided to skip the running course this morning. There are eight sessions and we paid for six. I was going to have to organise myself a lift for this one, and I just didn't feel up to it last night. I thought I'd get up and go for a run on my own, but I didn't manage to get myself out of bed. I'm planning to go tomorrow, so I hope I make it.

I managed to buy some more accessories today. I was telling Alex that I needed a head light for the bush path to work and she texted me with the news that what I wanted was available in Kathmandu. There was a sale on. I called in on the way home from work. I bought the light at half price and I ended up buying some thermal tops for a fraction of the normal price as well. I got these for my walks to work.

I managed to get the light case open to put the batteries in, but I put it back on upside down and it's not working. To my frustration, I can't get the case open again! Persistence doesn't seem to be helping. I'll keep on trying. Fortunately, my brother is visiting this weekend, so I'll be able to ask him to rescue me if I don't manage to get it open before then.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Cycling and walking

Today I met up with Leonie for a bike ride. We headed off in the general direction of my work - I've been thinking about riding to work if I can manage the hills. I'm glad I asked Leonie to come along with me as she knew the general area, and saved me a lot of time. We took the back streets across, as the main road is quite busy during the week. The roads twist and turn as they gain elevation, so we ended up asking a local resident which way to go. They recommended the main road. *chuckle*

We headed back over to the main road and crossed to the other side. Canberra has bushland all over the place, and this side of the road is a mixture of suburbia, national park and rural property. We tried a few different options. I mentioned the other day that the 'rural road' part of the trip was a bit of a worry, with a couple of white posts down. Well, we found a way across the bushland, a formed dirt road that will be lovely for walking or running and means that I'm nowhere near all the traffic that's hurriedly rushing to or escaping from work. Not so good for riding in rainy weather though and I still have to get across to it.

We tried turning left instead of right when leaving work, thinking we'd find a flatter route that would take us down to Lake Burley Griffin. I was a bit nervous as we were riding on the main road, but it was fun too, coasting down a long gentle slope. I was tentatively enjoying the ride when I suddenly realised that if I took this option it would be a long hill going up. It was an adventure as we were riding on the road for quite a while. Thank goodness we were only contending with Sunday traffic.

We finally got onto the bike path that skirts the lake and headed back towards town. It was really windy by the lake, so we were glad we hadn't been planning to ride around it today. A brief stop off for a coffee at the mobile coffee kiosk and then we headed home. All up, I was out for almost two hours.

The ride towards the lake was fun in a white-knuckled sort of way, but it's not really an option for going to work. The main road is an option, but it's got an enormous hill and requires riding on the road in some sections. A combination of the main road, walking paths, and heading across country looks like being possible, although I think I'll be walking / running this option rather than riding my bike. I think I'm safer on my feet than I am on the bike at the moment.

Later in the day I met up with Alex and we headed off to walk up Black Mountain. We walked across to the Botanic Gardens from my place. That took us 25 minutes. We then headed across the gardens to the walking path up to the Telstra Tower. Unfortunately, we got geographically confused by construction work, and didn't make it to the tower path. It was my fault. We came to a choice of paths, and I chose the one that went uphill, on the grounds that we were going up and we didn't want to lose any elevation. Apparently it was the wrong choice. Instead, we ended up back at the gardens cafe, where we enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea that more than compensated for the calories we'd burned off on our way up hill.

We eventually headed home, travelling much more slowly on the return journey than we had when we set out. Alex was really feeling her calves and my legs were reminding me that they had more than done their duty today. Even though we missed the mountain we added 14000 steps each to our team total for the walking challenge so we weren't too disappointed. We're going to see if we can get there another day, but we'll drive over to the Botanic Gardens instead of walking across next time.