Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Treadmill Run, PT and more PT

Before I get started, my Mum's home from hospital and recovering well. Thanks for all the positive thoughts and prayers. We're very happy and relieved to have her home.

On Monday night I went for a run at the gym. I really enjoyed myself. Some days it just seems easier than others. I ran 4 km before cooling down. It took me just over 35 minutes all up. I had my headphones and was watching Channel V. I don't really like running with headphones. I seem to get myself all tangled up and the earpieces don't always want to stay in my ears. The volume never seems to be right with the treadmill screen. It's all seems too hard but I persist. At least juggling the wires and adjusting the volume keeps me occupied.

I've been working on my cadence. I realised that I was running slower because I was taking few steps per minute. Only 10 actual steps less, but that's a fair bit of ground to be losing over a 40 minute run. I'm having trouble getting it back up. I have a theory that it's related to my breathing. It all makes perfect sense to me and it's something to think about while I'm running. My theory is this: I breathe in for two steps and out for for. As a result of Yoga I breathe more deeply, which means it takes me longer to breathe in and out. My feet have slowed down to compensate. My alternative theory is: I put on weight over the course of last year which has slowed me down. I prefer to ignore that one.

Anyway, it's given me something definite to work on. I'd gotten a bit slack with working on various aspects of my form. I'll have to make a conscious effort to read my Chi Running book again.

On Tuesday I had PT with Julia. I made myself do my cardio warmup on the bike. I really don't like the stationary bike but I figured it would be kinder to my knee. Also, I have a philosophy that I should do stuff I don't like occasionally as it makes me appreciate the stuff I do like even more. Oh no, that line of thinking is saying "Kathy, do a cycle class!" I think I need to develop selective deafness.

I was due for a program change so this week we started off on the leg press machine that you don't need to load the weights onto. I did the top third of the action. My knee was fine, although I could feel that it had been working. I don't know if I'm imagining that or if I'm really feeling it. I guess time will tell if it's paranoia. I did two (or three) sets of 15 reps at 50 kg. That's a problem with not blogging on the day - my mind leaks the details. At least Julia wrote it down. After that we did hamstring curls. I am starting to like these. I'd better not mention that to either trainer or they'll get scratched from my program. I did two sets of 15. I then did two sets of 15 reps at 16 kg on the seated row machine. I'll be able to increase the weight on that soon, but it's a while since I've done them so I wanted to get my form checked again.

We moved over to the Smith machine where I did pushups - two sets of 15. It's strange doing them on an angle. It was easier to actually bend my arms though. When I'm trying to do real pushups I hesitate to really bend my arms in case I can't get back up. We alternated the pushups with pullups. Julia had me doing them at an easier angle than I've done these before but I didn't want to encourage her to make it harder. It was still hard work when I got to 12 on the first set and I only made it to 10 on the second set.

We then did some abs work. I was pleased about this as abs work seems to have fallen out of the "Fernwood" program. We did a set of 15 crunches with the fitball. Julia asked me how I felt and I told her they were easy. Me and my big mouth. I was then doing reverse crunches. I only had to do one set of 10 and then it was time to stretch. I really enjoy the stretching.

I normally do Yoga on Tuesdays, but I reorganised my evening because my sister was coming to stay for a couple of nights. She's up here for work. It is great to see her. I see her every time I go to Melbourne, but it's fun for me to have her here. It's also an excuse to go to "Sammy's Kitchen", which is a fabulous Chinese restaurant a few minutes walk from my place.

This morning I had my PT with Krissi. I love this session, although I was feeling a little trepidation as I hadn't spoken to her about my decision to pull out of the tri. I really appreciated that she didn't immediately try to talk me back into it, and I told her so. Well, the flood gates opened. She'd exercised massive self-control to not say anything. It was good to talk to her about it. She gave me a new perspective on the whole thing. I'm not saying that I'll do the triathlon but I'm seriously thinking about getting my backside to the cycling training on Friday - without cleats.

At this morning's session we started off with a warmup on the bike. I may have mentioned (ok, I know I did) that I hate this. I lasted the ten minutes. Krissi cranked up the resistance for the last 90 seconds which was typical PT sadism. I mean that in the nicest way - it's good to have the challenge but I don't have to like it. Then came my favourite part of the session - the stretching. All the stretches are great but there one stretch in particular that I find wonderful, where Krissi leans on the bottom of my foot. I know that's a lousy description, but I'm not going to try to explain how it works. It's enough that my calves love the stretch.

Now this session was only today, but I'm probably going to forget the order / no of reps etc. We started off with hamstring curls. We did three sets of 15. I mentioned that I was really feeling them in my calves and Krissi explained to me where I was going wrong. I don't know why I waited until the end to mention it instead of saying something in the first set. After that we did calf raises, which really burned after the second set. We then did chest presses. I managed 15 reps at 7.5 kg for the first set but I kind of crumbled at 10 reps in the second set. My left arm stopped coping. I have an impressive bruise on my left wrist from falling off my bike last week but I don't know if it was that or if it would have happened anyway. Krissi assisted me through another 5 reps but they were pretty much spaghetti.

After that I did an exercise but I didn't think to find out its name. It was using the wide bar, sitting down, leaning back and pulling the bar down to my chest while keeping my shoulders down. It's probably got some blindingly obvious name. I'll have to ask Krissi next time. Anyway, I did two sets of 12 or 15 reps at some weight or the other. Yep, I was paying close attention. After each set Krissi had me doing the plank for 1 minute. It's good when Krissi is timing me - on my own I give up much sooner.

For abs exercises Krissi had me starting off with situps. My legs were bent and my feet were together. Krissi held my toes down while I started off with my hands on my quads. I was to slide them up my legs as I sat up. At first I was all back and shoulders, but Krissi gave me a tip. Instead of thinking about sitting up with my abs she got me to think about moving my hands smoothly along my legs. That worked really well. Once I managed that she got me to think about rolling back down one vertebrae at a time instead of flopping. I think we did 12 of these the first time and 10 the second time. I was definitely struggling towards the end of the set the second time.

After the situps I was doing crunches, with my legs closer to my backside and my arms straight up in the air holding a 3 kg medicine ball. To do the crunches I was raising the ball. It was a small movement that resulted in quite an effective crunch. I don't remember how many of these we did. After that I did reverse crunches. Krissi had me concentrating on lifting with my abs and not worrying about how far my feet moved. Again, a small movement but effective. I felt absolutely great when I was walking home.

On the bike confidence front, I've applied to join a course run by Pedal Power ACT. It's called "New Horizons for Women - 2008", aims to improve cycling skills, and is run over nine weeks, starting in mid-February. I hear that places go fast, so I'll have to wait to hear if they have room for me.

On the half marathon front, I've just discovered that the ACT Cross Country Club runs a training group aimed at novices. There's an info session on that in mid-February too.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Squash and postponed triathlon

Last Thursday night I played squash with Murali. I was so organised. I had my racket out on the kitchen bench, ready to go. I got my gear together, packed my contact lenses, made sure I had my knee bandage and headed out the door - minus squash racket. When I got to the court I changed, hired a racket, and headed out to play - minus contacts and knee bandage. This week I'm just going to leave it all to chance and see what happens.

We had a much better game this week. The two of us managed to hit the ball more often. It was our typical epic contest, being decided in five. This time Murali won. He got quite excited early on as he won two games in a row. He claims it's the first time he's managed that. I'm taking his word for it as I haven't been paying that kind of attention to our results. I'm not looking forward to the day that he wipes me out in three. I'm going to have to hit my brother-in-law up for some coaching to make sure that I delay that day as long as possible.

On the triathlon front, I've decided to postpone my triathlon debut. I'm not going to enter the one I've been training for. I've managed to get myself into quite a state over riding my bicycle. I couldn't sleep on Thursday night because I was so worried about going to the cycling training on Friday morning. I was ok about the whole thing the day before, even after falling off, but then I had time to think about what happened. I fell off because I hadn't coped with the steep driveway. I realised that there were plenty of situations out there when I didn't cope very well (I'm a nervous bike rider) and so there were lots of times when I would be in danger of falling off. I figure I have to build up my general riding skills before I go riding in bunches on the road. At the moment I'm a danger to myself and to anyone unlucky enough to be riding anywhere near me.

It was really hard to tell people that I was going to pull the pin on this triathlon. I was grumpy as anything at work on Friday. Mind you, that might have been the broken night's sleep rather than the triathlon decision.

I ended up not exercising on Friday (I skipped cycling training) or Saturday (it rained). I went for a 4 km walk with Alex today and then to brunch with the running girls. I'll get back into it properly this week.


My mum's back in hospital. She's not been well. She kept saying she thought she'd be better than she was. We all reassured her by telling her that she was recovering from major surgery and that it would take time. Even her doctor, who is wonderful, told her that. Anyway, last week she saw her doctor again and was taken straight to hospital. She has fluid on her lungs. They are trying to determine the cause at the moment. She's in a queue for a test that will examine her new heart valve to see if it's leaking. Hopefully that will happen in the next couple of days. If her heart valve is the problem then she will have to have the operation all over again. That's the worst case scenario. Needless to say, we're all hoping that's not the case.

I'm a great believer in the power of positive thinking. If you have good thoughts you can send her way, then I'm sure they will help her recovery. Those of you who pray - we'd really appreciate your prayers at this time.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

It sounded like a great idea at the time

You may have noticed that I haven't been riding my bike much. That's going to be a problem when I'm doing the cycling leg of the triathlon. I've been agonising between trying to ride with cleats and giving up on the idea completely. In the meantime I haven't been out on the bike.

Krissi sent me an email, suggesting that we use this morning's PT session to check out how I get on and off the bike while I was wearing ordinary shoes and then make the transition to cleats. I thought it was a great idea, even though I was as nervous as anything. I was so tense when I got to her place that I was sure my heart must be beating at 100 miles a second. Great for calorie burning of course.

We headed over to the park on our bikes. Krissi explained that she wanted me to pretend I was wearing cleats. I was to do the click out action, brake, step off the bike, and then dismount. She observed me a few times and worked out what I need to do to survive cleats. Even without the cleats it took concentration. I've recently realised that I was very sloppy about getting off the bike. I had all sorts of bad habits. Anyway, I now have a "method". After we rode for about 20 minutes, which seemed much longer, I finally worked up the courage to try the cleats. I was still incredibly stressed but I figured I was getting a great opportunity to make the switch and that I should take advantage of it.

Well, I managed it. I think I was hyperventilating but I was trying to do it in a really "I'm cool with all this" sort of way that wasn't fooling anyone. Krissi mentioned the look of terror on my face a few times. Still, I clicked in, clicked out, braked, stepped down, and dismounted over and over again. We decided that I'm going to dismount onto the right side of the bike as a way of avoiding pancaking to the left. I couldn't see how this would work in traffic. Krissi looked at me with confusion and then started to laugh before asking "Why would you want to dismount in traffic?" It was a pretty good point.

After I'd conquered the park, Krissi took me on a ride around the block. We managed fine. I did some practising getting on and off the bike and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. We rode up the driveway to her building and that's when it happened. I hadn't dropped the gear for the hill and I got myself into an awful mess. I had time to say "I'm in trouble" and then I was falling down. I managed to hit myself in the face with the handlebars and I collected my wrist on the way. I scrambled to my feet and picked up my bike with Krissi's help. As we were doing this a car came out of the garage, swerved around us (we were in the middle of the driveway) and kept going. I was pretty unimpressed that the driver wasn't able to wait for me to get to my feet but she was busy talking on a mobile phone. She did hesitate for a moment, looked annoyed that we were in her way, and then kept going.

I was really shaken by the fall. I had that whole adrenaline rush going, then a few minutes later I was faint and felt like I needed to sit down. I got over it, but I wouldn't get back on the bike to ride with the cleats. I was too rattled. I'll get back another time. I did ride home using my normal shoes. I figured cleats and pedestrians were too much for me, but there weren't too many pedestrians as it happened. I was so glad to get home though.

Krissi was great. I'm sure she was disappointed that I crashed after such a positive session, but she kept being as encouraging as ever. If she hadn't made the offer to help me today I'm sure I would have changed the pedals back over. Now I've gotten some confidence back. I guess I'll fall over a few more times, but hey, apparently everybody does it. Well, almost everybody.

At the very least I won't be changing the pedals back before the triathlon. I know I can ride the bike in ordinary shoes with the new pedals. There goes my excuse for not being out there practising. I'd better get serious about working on my bike fitness.

Tomorrow I have squash, which is my favourite activity of all.

Lots to catch up on

On Monday I was at the swim training session for the triathlon. This was our last session in the pool. There seemed to be a lot of people in our lane. I think some of the women who were at the first session and then disappeared have made New Year's resolutions that involved showing up again.

I wore contact lenses in the pool today. I decided to try them out as I had visions of coming out of the water and not being able to find my bike. I hadn't realised that I'd walk out of the store with trial lenses. Well, it certainly added to the experience. There are all sorts of marks on the bottom of the pool. It makes it easier when you can see people. There's chicken wire on the roof.

We were swimming along when I got promoted to the second lane. I figured there really must be a lot of people in the lane for me to get promoted. Anyway, I wasn't too pleased as I've observed that the usual trainer for that lane is pretty ordinary. (Yep, she's a volunteer and I'm criticising, but hey, who wouldn't be disappointed going from a good trainer to a not as good trainer.) Luckily for me there was a second trainer and she really helped me improve my stroke. By the end of the session I was swimming much better than I had been.

After we'd warmed up those of us doing the short triathlon (200 m swim) were asked to swim 300 m without stopping. It's a 25 m pool, so that meant I had to swim 12 laps non-stop. I managed it and decided to try for 400 m. I managed that too. Yay me! It was good to know that I could do it. I'm going to have to try to do the same thing in a 50 m pool.

On Tuesday I was at the gym. I really should have gotten up in the morning to run, but I decided to squeeze a short run in between Personal Training and Yoga. I was at the gym for two and a half hours and had a great time. It was my first PT session back with Julia. She'd had a great holiday in Tasmania and has her parents on fitness programs now.

We did the same session we'd been doing before Christmas. I did the squats to 30 degrees and held each fifth one for ages. It seems really easy to do the squats but I started to feel it in my abs and back. I then did the chest press - 12 reps at 9 kgs and triceps push backs - 15 reps at 4 kg. Two sets of each. I struggled with the chest press but made it. I followed that up with the bent over row - two sets of 15 reps at 12.5 kg. I keep thinking I'm ready for the next weight, but by the 10th row my back is letting me know that I still have a way to go. We then did some abs exercises - that twist thing with the medicine ball - 2 sets of 20 reps with a 4 kg medicine ball with a set of leg extensions in the middle - one leg, then the other, then both. I managed 10 of them. Ouch. The second set of twists was hard work after that. Some stretching and we were done. Normally we wouldn't have done so much abs work but Julia gave me a 45 min session as she had a free half hour between clients. It was a nice bonus for me.

I had planned to do a longer run, but I only had half an hour before yoga. I started off at 7.5 km/h for 10 mins and then did three sets of 1 min intervals (9/6) followed by running until I made 3 km, and then a cool down. All up about 25 mins. I then changed my top for yoga. Fortunately it was on, which I was really pleased to discover.

It was a dynamic yoga session and we spent most of the time on our feet. I really enjoyed it. I felt like I handled the poses pretty well. I'm still having difficulty with some of the transitions, but I'm getting closer all the time. There was only one thing I had to skip because of my knee and I can't manage that one anyway. It's the duck waddle. I felt like I "got" the side bend today. That's the one from Warrior 2, for those of you that know something about yoga. It was a geat session and I felt so good after all the stretching.

This morning I had PT with Krissi. I'm going to blog about that separately as it was rather amusing.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Walking, running and yoga

Yesterday my exercise didn't go to plan at all, yet I had a lovely day. I went for a walk with my mother and sister on Altona Beach. Well, let me clarify that. We went to Altona Beach. Janet and Mum went for a walk on the pier while I headed off along the path beside the beach. I didn't actually step onto the beach at any stage and I didn't walk with the other two.

Mum has to walk each day as part of her recovery from her heart operation, so Janet has been accompanying her on her slow progressions from seat to seat at various locations. They invited me along, but told me that I could go off at my pace while they watched the fishermen, the boats, the waves, etc. I felt like I'd be disappointing them if I didn't head off into the distance. I took my trusty ipod and my phone, so my walk was really a ramble. I ended up being out there for an hour all up. I have a little sunburn. This incidental exercise can be dangerous!

This morning I met up with Kathryn for a run at Princess Park followed by Yoga in the Park. I'm really enjoying these runs. Apart from the great company, there's the added incentive of keeping up! I run a little faster with Kathryn than I do on my own, which has got to be good for me. Not that this morning's run was anything to write home about. It's that time of month, and I get the feeling that it's going to be one of those "drain every ounce of energy out of you" experiences instead of an "I'm so strong I can do anything" one. I usually get the second type so I'm a pathetic wuss when it's the first kind. I kept dropping back to a walk. I burnt 510 calories covering 6.35 km in 53 minutes though, so it was a great run from a calorie counting point of view.

We followed the run up with a yoga session. It was lovely, doing yoga in the park. I have only ever done it inside before. I'm glad I had this experience. Being barefoot on the ground, hearing birds, seeing blue skies and trees, and feeling the rain (yes, it rained but only lightly a few times) all made for a wonderful class. I'll definitely do that again when I'm next in Melbourne. Apparently the class will be there until mid-March.

I'm in negative calories for the day at the moment on Calorie King. Kathryn and I were chatting about it as we ran, but I hadn't expected that today's effort would get me there. I like being this far ahead for the day as it means I can think about having pizza or something else that usually doesn't make it onto the daily menu. I probably won't, but it's nice to have the option.

Kathryn and I were also talking about how hard it is to get enough protein. She's done the sensible thing and bought herself some protein powder. I really should think about that too. I might just think about it for a while though.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Squash at last!

Who knew the queue to change a daycare session could be so long? Mihir just isn't happy to be upstairs while Murali is down on the court playing. It doesn't matter how much he likes the person looking after him as he's Daddy's boy. At long last Murali rang me with the news that the child care situation is sorted and booked me in for squash on Thursday for the next twelve months. Murali is as keen to play as I am!

I was so excited that I left my racquet out with my house keys so that I wouldn't forget it. I normally don't get my stuff ready the night before but squash is different. There was a moment when I was thinking "should I do this with my knee?" but then I thought "this is squash, the pain will be worth it". (JoJo, I so understand why you want to be back out there playing.) We even had a hot day in Canberra yesterday, which meant that the courts were going to be stinking hot. Just our luck but it wasn't going to deter us either.

Of course, neither of us has practised during our break, so we had the usual complete misses, shots off the wood, returns that managed to hit three walls out of court, balls bouncing off the lights etc. There was plenty of opportunity to giggle. At one stage Murali managed to hit himself with his racquet. I apologised for laughing when he'd hurt himself but then told him quite seriously that I had to laugh because it was so funny. He stopped laughing long enough to accept my apology. At least neither of us managed to clobber the other. We also didn't crash into each other, mainly because neither of us was match fit enough to run after the ball with that level of commitment.

We managed to play four games before completely expiring. I am so looking forward to next week's game. Oh, and my knee is fine. I wore the support bandage, which was meant to remind me to be careful. I'm not sure that it succeeded, but I didn't manage to twist it or do anything silly like that.

I skipped the other exercise for the day as I figured I'd burn enough calories playing squash. (I'd forgotten how much it makes you sweat!) I'm having to keep an eye on my calorie intake as I didn't eat enough on Tuesday. How's that? Amazing! I was so busy and I didn't write down my food intake on the day. It wasn't until I filled it in on Thursday that I realised. No wonder I was obsessing about food! It always catches up with you.

On the weight loss front, I've lost a kg. Yay me! Only 25 to go. I won't update my ticker until I weigh myself in Melbourne, as the scales there is my gospel scales.

Today I'm having a rest day and I'm running on Saturday and Sunday. I'll try to get to the pool and find an exercise bike. Hmm, I think Fernwood in Altona have both. There's a plan.

I found out yesterday that the Women and Girl's triathlon course has changed and that the short option is now 200m swim / 9km ride / 2 km run instead of the 400/14/4 I was expecting. I feel a lot more confident about getting through the swim leg without drowning. That's got to be good.

Well, I'd better head off to work now. I keep missing the morning bus lately so I want to actually catch one this week!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Running, swimming, PT and more running

I've been a little busy with my social life, which has got to be a good thing, especially as it's fitting in around my exercise. It is interfering with my blogging time but that's not exactly something I think I should complain about. Mind you, I did have a quiet chuckle when I showed up for drinks, complete with home made ice pack yesterday. Yes, I've got class.

I didn't make it out of bed in the morning on Tuesday, but I did get to the gym for my run and Yoga. I didn't quite have an hour for the run, so I figured I'd warm up for 15 mins instead of 3 kms. Mind you, I realised that 15 mins IS 3 mins for many runners. I then did five lots of 400 m pace intervals before running out of time. I ended up running a total of 50 mins and covering 6 km. I did the warm up and cooldown at 8 km/h and followed a 9 / 6 split on the pace intervals. I decided that as I was going to increase the number of intervals I'd slow down on the recovery jog. I was still coping well on the fifth interval so I think it was a good idea.

I was still a bit hyped when I got to Yoga. Our usual teacher was still away on holiday and the music the replacement teacher was using seemed a bit odd. She eventually announced we were doing a Balance class. I don't know why they didn't put up a notice at reception (well, I do, as we would all have gone home, or, in my case, kept running). We have lots of new instructors at the gym since the new owners started. This one didn't ask about injuries, which always bugs me, even when I don't have one. I thought, oh well, I'll just be careful, but the start of the class involved way too many knee bends so I ended up packing up my stuff and leaving.

One good thing about it, I was able to bring drinks forward an hour, along with applying the home made ice pack. Icing my knee definitely made a difference. It didn't feel sore until late today and it was a lot less sore than usual. Oh, I called into the chemist this evening and bought a couple of hot/cold packs and a knee support bandage. I figured that bringing frozen carrots along the next time I go out for drinks may mean I don't get asked again. (Before you ask, I have received a repeat invitation so the carrots weren't a deal breaker this time.)

This morning I did manage to drag myself out of bed and get to the pool. It was quite busy so I had to join a lane with five other swimmers. I don't mind sharing the lane but I'm convinced that I'm the slowest thing ever and that the others will mind sharing with me. In the end it wasn't at all traumatic. I didn't crash into anyone and I didn't have people hustling me along. I had a brief chat with one of the swimmers after I finished and she told me that we'd had a good bunch today. I hope I'm always so lucky.

I had my PT session with Krissi this morning (Yay!) so I had to hustle at the pool. I only did 8 laps. I aimed to have shorter rests between laps. I cut them down to about 15 seconds today, and managed fine, although I did notice that I slowed down quite a bit on the last two laps as tiredness caught up with me.

It was great to see Krissi. I enjoyed hearing all about her holiday over in WA and the photos were amazing. I was able to see them because Krissi was measuring me today. I'd asked her to do this as I'm going to do the Runner's World challenge. She repeated the measurements that she did at the start of our PT sessions. The results weren't too bad, which was a relief after the holiday season. This afternoon I got myself weighed by another friend who is a weight loss consultant, but I didn't get the photos done. I'll have to organise some tomorrow or I guess the weight measurement will be invalid. If I can't get my act into gear, I'll get it done on the weekend in Melbourne, which is the other place I weigh myself. I deliberately don't have a scales at home or I'd be on them every ten minutes.

After we did the measurements, I warmed up on the bike. That was such hard work! I am going to have to build up my cycling fitness as well as my swimming fitness. I've been a little slack about that. Krissi stretched me, which was heaven on earth. While she was doing that she mentioned my new shoes and elastic laces. Yes, she'd caught up on my blog. I told her that I'm going to have to write a section especially for her to read, where I write up the exercise session I imagine I'm going to have. Everything will be done perfectly, at the right level of intensity. Then I'll write the real blog with a "Krissi, don't read this bit" instruction. I'm sure she'll pay attention!

This evening I had to run between 3 and 8 kilometres. I decided to run at the gym and work on my cadence. I also decided that shorter was better than longer, given that I did have a little pain. I put the knee bandage on, and it seemed to help. I iced my knee again this evening. It's taking a bit of self-discipline but I'm sure it will benefit me in the long run. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Today I played with the speeds on the treadmill. I started at 6 and went up by 0.5 km/h every minute until I reached 9 then I went backwards to 7.5, forwards to 9, etc, ending up on 6 before a 5 minute machine managed cooldown. By the end of the half hour I'd covered 3.6 km.

Tomorrow I have squash with Murali, which I'm really looking forward to. I have my squash racquet out, ready to go. I'm not sure whether I'll run or swim tomorrow. I'll see how I feel in the morning.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Weights session

Tonight I went to the gym after work. It's the first time I've exercised since swimming on Saturday. I decided to rest my knee on Sunday, but I just didn't feel like getting up this morning.

I wanted to do a weights session today as it's been a while. I warmed up with a 10 minute walk on the treadmill, and then dug my program out of the filing cabinet. I modified it as per the doctor's instructions but I'm going to have to get some advice from Krissi to get some additional leg exercises.

I started off on the leg press machine, planning to keep the motion within the 30 degrees the doctor recommended. I could feel my knee straining, and realised I was doing the wrong half of the motion. I swapped over to the other half and it felt fine. I did some thinking and realised that if I had the seat further back I would only be able to do the right range of motion, so I wouldn't be able to accidentally do the wrong half next time. I jumped on and off the machine a few times to get it set up properly. I wrote it down on the card, but I probably won't be able to read the squiggle next time or remember what I was trying to communicate to myself. I did 3 sets of 15 at 60 kg. It didn't seem at all hard, so I might have to increase the weight while I am doing the reduced presses.

After the leg press I did the hamstring curls on the fitball. I could really feel them and my balance was shot to hell, but I managed to get through two sets of 15 reps. When I went to use the Smith machine most of the weights were missing. I've no idea where they have all disappeared to, but I managed to scrounge some up weights. I did one set of 15 reps at 10 kg to warm up, tossing the bar at the top of the motion, and then I did 15 fitball pushups on my knees. I am not really sure whether I'm in the right position for them (I suspect I'm not) but I could feel them in my arms so at least I was getting a workout. I then did 10 reps at 15 kg, one more set of fitball pushups and then 5 reps at 15 kg.

I then did biceps curls and triceps pulldowns and then finished off with some abs work. I did the plank (45 sec, 40 sec) then two sets of 20 crunches. I was sweating away by the end of it, but I think that was more because the gym was hot.

I wouldn't say my knee feels sore but it's tired. I'm icing it at the moment, which seems a little excessive for tiredness. I figure I'll give it a go anyway as the swelling is showing up a day or two later. I guess I have to get used to having a prevention mindset.

Tomorrow is Yoga night. I plan to swim in the morning and run on the treadmill before Yoga. Hopefully I'll make it out of bed.

Saturday, 5 January 2008


I went swimming this morning. It was a bit of an effort to get myself there. I was in that "it's Saturday morning and I don't have to be anywhere" frame of mind, where staying in bed with a book was much more attractive than going to the pool or out for a run. After I convinced myself that it would be way too busy at the pool later in the day, I managed to put the book away and leave the house.

I decided to walk down there and go shopping on the way home. It was quiet when I got there, although there seemed to be a swimming lesson happening in the non-labelled lane I usually swim in. I ventured down to the "real" lap lanes. The person in the slow lane looked really slow and was swimming in the middle of the lane, but I've no idea how slow I look, so I figured I would join him and hope that he'd stay to the left once I was there. I was tempted to swim in the non-labelled lane beside it, but the lady there was swimming along with her head out of the water and her arms flailing everywhere. I figured she might be a good person to avoid. I let Mr Slow get a good head start and then took off.

I wasn't quite as exhausted at the end of the first 50 m. It took me approx 90 seconds to get there and I rested for 30 secs before heading off again. I managed to keep up that pattern the whole way through my session, and I never caught up with Mr Slow so I didn't have to decide whether or not to pass him.

I managed my 8 laps and thought I'd do 2 more. I did have crazy thoughts of doing another 10, but I realised I was starting to lose my form. Swimming 10 laps badly isn't going to do me any good in the long run. I also remembered how sore my back had felt on Thursday night. I figured that beginning swimming was like beginning running and that I should slowly build up my distance. I swam two more laps so I did a total of 600 m in roughly 24 minutes. I don't think they'll be calling on me for the Olympic squad any time soon. :-)

I went shopping on the way home. I'd been a bit disappointed in the post-Christmas sales however today I managed to find myself a couple of dresses at Events for half price. I grabbed my current size in one and a size down in the other. To my surprise and pleasure, the size down one looks great on me now. I looked for the size down in the other dress but they didn't have it, so I wasn't able to see if it would have fitted me too. Still, the current one looked good. This whole sizing thing is so confusing! Still, I was very happy that I was able to buy a size 14 dress that fit me.

I called into Athlete's Foot and bought another pair of runners and some cute red elastic laces. After that I went to Noni B, and checked out the sale racks. I found two tops I liked at half price. I bought one in my current size and the other in the next size down. I have this theory that I will be at least one size smaller in three months time.

I had meant to go for a run or a cycle this afternoon, but instead I ended up eating really badly. Still, those biscuits are gone forever, and so is that cheese. I thought I'd be able to resist the cheese, but I didn't. I'll have to put a ban on buying any for a while.

I'm not sure what exercise I'll do tomorrow. My knee is a little swollen after Thursday's run. I have planned to do the jogalong, which involves me cycling to get there and back, and then go for a swim on the way home, but I think I'll wait until the morning to decide. I'm not sure what I should be doing about my knee. Maybe I should be strapping it or icing it after every run. I might give the icing a go and see if that stops the swelling.

Oh, on Friday I didn't swim in the morning because I woke up tired. I did pack my gym gear so that I could do a weights session on the way home, but the gym was closed! It's closed all weekend as well. I think I must go to the Fernwood with the worst opening hours in the world! Grrr.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Swimming and running

What on earth was I thinking when I decided to do a triathlon? I must be crazy. That's what I was thinking after I swam 50 m this morning. I was dying quietly at the other end of the pool, looking back over the 50 m I had just swum, wondering how on earth I was ever going to manage to swim 400 m in the Lake.

I swam the second 50 m and then managed the third and fourth. I was thinking I'd have to stop after 200 m, but I still seemed to have some energy so I decided that I'd get out of the pool once I'd covered 400 m. I have no idea how long it took me. I can't read the clock without my glasses, and I'd forgotten to wear my HRM. I was out of the house for an hour, but that included my bike ride to the pool and back, my struggle with the cable lock and changing before and after the swim.

Obviously I'm going to have to do a lot more swimming between now and 3rd February. I guess I'll have plenty of opportunities to work out how long a lap takes me.

Apart from getting myself to the pool to practise my swimming, which was a minor victory in itself, I also was out and about on my bike for the first time since I came off it. I still have to practise riding with cleats, but at least I was riding.

This evening I went to the gym to run. The plan called for a hill run, but I'm not running hills at the moment. Based on the instructions for the hill run I figured that I should run 7 km today, however, as I missed doing the interval session on Tuesday because of the heat, I decided to give it a go instead. I also decided to go back to the interval session from the first week, as it seemed a bit easier. The plan was for me to run a 3 km warmup and then do 4 sets of 400 m pace intervals before cooling down for 3 km. All up 8.8 km.

I did some calculations beforehand so that I'd know what pace I should be running the intervals at. I realised that I was feeling a bit apprehensive about the session, so I decided to drop the speed a little. Instead of running the intervals at 9.7 km/h I ran them at 9 km/h. I hadn't really thought about the recovery speed, but I ended up doing the first 100 m at 6 km/h and the next 300 m at 7.5 km/h. One of the reasons for the 6 and 9 is that the new treadmills have quick start buttons for those speeds. I did the warm up and cool down at 7.5 km/h, which is a pretty comfortable running pace for me (8 min/km).

It was different being on the treadmill as the machine took care of the pace for me so I didn't have to think about it. Also, there was a tv set there to distract me. I was pleased to be able to run for more than 3 km, although I wasn't sure if I was going to manage the intervals. I had a backup plan where I'd do 200 m intervals if I couldn't last for 400 m. I managed the 4 x 400 m though, although my legs were really feeling it. I didn't have time for the 3 km cool down though, so I decided that I'd run for the hour, which ended up being a total distance of 7.6 km. It's quite a while since I ran for an hour without stopping, so I felt as though it was quite an achievement.

I'm going to have to make the effort to go back to the pool tomorrow morning. It's a rest day from running, so cycling was on my plan but I think the swimming fitness is more important at this stage. Besides, I still have to work up the courage to try the cleats again, and that might be easier over the weekend.

Thanks for all the positive comments to my last post. I was at work today wishing I hadn't posted it. I realise that I kept it pretty high level, but I feel a lot of the old emotions and remember the heartbreaking moments when I read it, so it seems a bit too personal for this blog to me. Mind you, it did me the world of good to look back over that time and remember how far I've come. I find diet blogs a mixture of painful emotions and amazing achievements, which can make them difficult to read regularly. While I might give you the odd progress update here, I promise to keep the angst over at Calorie King. ;-)

Thanks again.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008


While I was writing today's post I was thinking about my weight loss journey and I've decided to summarise it here. I've been reading so many blogs where people have been reflecting on 2007 and I guess that's inspired me to take the time to write this down. I've also found myself wanting to offer help to people who are struggling with losing weight but then hesitating in case they think I'm offering platitudes rather than real understanding.

One thing I have known for the past six months is that I have been really happy with my weight loss achievements and that I just wasn't interested in losing more weight during that time. I wanted to work on my fitness, which I have done, and I wanted to give my body some time to adjust to the new me. For example, my skin has tightened up, which is great. Not as much as I would like, but it's definitely less expensive than plastic surgery. I did realise that I was getting too relaxed about my eating, but I just couldn't get the momentum up to get started on the weight loss trail again. I kept hoping that the time would come when I'd be in the right frame of mind to lose weight again and it looks like my hopes have been answered.

I am absolutely completely confident that I'll lose weight this year.

When you're reading this it's important to realise that this is a summary. There was a lot more to it than this. If you're interested in knowing more, please feel free to contact me via hotmail. I think I'll blog about my new weight loss journey, but I'll probably do that on Calorie King. I'm not sure yet.

My journey so far (2004 - 2007)

I was seriously thinking about gastric banding in 2004 as a friend of mine found it incredibly successful. Mind you, he was seriously ill and needed to lose weight to save his life. I had been told that the doctor he'd recommended would want to know that I'd given dieting a serious try, and so I signed up for Lite'N'Easy in August 2004. I had to tell them my weight when I signed up. I was horrified to discover that I weighed 118 kgs. I had been working from home for the past 12 months and I hadn't realised that I'd gained so much weight.

Now I'm not a tall person. At 118 kg I was a size 24 and a half. I was starting to need to buy size 26 clothes, but I wouldn't admit to myself that I had moved into that size category.

I'd decided to give Lite'N'Easy a serious try and I managed to lose 12 kgs. I got a new job in Canberra in late October but none of my old business clothes fitted me. I needed a complete new wardrobe. I was travelling from Melbourne weekly and I didn't have a car in Canberra so I became a public transport user. I was really unfit and dreaded the thought of walking any distance in the summer heat. Over the Christmas period I managed to regain 7 of the 12 kgs I'd lost and I was bursting out of my new clothes. I found myself puffing and panting on the walk from the bus stop to my office. I was afraid I was going to die but I didn't know what to do about it. Obviously I was a complete failure at losing weight. The situation came to a head in February, when I realised that I was starting to buy Macca's on the way home from work.

I have no idea what I weighed when I walked into the gym in February 2005. I was so convinced that I couldn't lose weight that I decided that I was just there to get fitter. I didn't even bother to weigh myself as I knew I wouldn't like the answer. (I regret that now, just as I regret that there are hardly any photos of me from 2004 - 2006.) Over the next nine months I managed to lose two and a half dress sizes. I don't know for sure how much weight I lost during that time but I was 107 kg when I decided that it was time for me to give weight loss another try. I did so badly that I weighed 110 kg after Christmas.

Even though I was feeling fitter and healthier than I had done in years I was still miserable about my weight. I was looking everywhere for an answer. In January 2006 I found one. A whole lot of things seemed to come together for me and I started losing weight steadily. It kept coming off. As 118 kg was my highest known weight I used it as my starting point. By October 2006 I'd lost 38 kgs. I managed to avoid putting on any weight over Christmas, which was great, however I was disappointed that I wasn't able to get to the 40 kg mark.

I'd done a lot of walking in 2006, but it was getting harder and harder to get my heart rate up. I realised that I was going to have to up the ante. With the encouragement of my personal trainer I began running in September 2006. I was doing well until I went home to Melbourne for a holiday. It was a bad bushfire season and there was smoke everywhere. I didn't run because of the smoke and quickly got out of the habit. I had to start my running all over again when I got back to Canberra. Fortunately I had told people that I was going to run my laps of the Relay for Life in March, so I had to work hard to be able to make good on my promise.

I signed up for the Biggest Loser Challenge at Fernwood and started blogging. I found that really helped to motivate me. I also managed to lose another 5 kgs, bringing my total weight loss to 43 kg. In April 2006 I was lighter than I'd been in 10 years.

Since then I've been really relaxed about weight loss. I was so happy with how I looked and felt that it didn't seem important to lose any more weight. I focussed on my fitness and enjoyed being able to run. I was aware that my weight was starting to creep back up and I occasionally had a bit of a panic about it, but I think my body needed the break. I've toned up and still fit into the clothes I bought when I was at my lowest weight, although they are starting to get a bit tight now. It's definitely time to get back onto the straight and narrow.

As at today, I'm 33 kg lighter than my original starting weight of 118 kg. I've got a definite goal weight in mind. I'd really like to be half my size. I've checked, and 59 kg is near the top end of my healthy BMI range. In fact, I'm going to aim for 58 kg as saying "I lost 60 kg" sounds more impressive than "I lost 59 kg". Of course, I won't know until I get there if it's a healthy weight for me, but it's a line in the sand for me.

I know how to consistently lose half a kilo to a kilo a week, so I should be able to get there before the end of the year. They say that a goal isn't a real goal unless it has a timeframe, so my timeframe is to be at my goal weight by 1 January, 2009.

I'm going to enlist help from people this time. I did it pretty much on my own the last time, although I did receive encouragement and support from family, friends and work colleagues.

Morning run

I so didn't want to get out of bed this morning. The plan was for a run somewhere between three and eight kilometres. I told myself that all I had to do was 3 km. With that promise I managed to get myself up and out of the building. Once I was dressed it didn't seem too impossible, but it took me ages to get out the door.

It was lovely outside, but I was in that "I don't want to be running" frame of mind, which meant that I didn't appreciate it. I managed to run a whole 500 metres before deciding that walking was a good idea. I got myself running again by setting myself targets to reach before I was allowed to walk. I did find that I was able to run further when there was a walker on the path. Isn't vanity a powerful motivator?

After about 2 kms I found myself coughing away and realised that I was probably so reluctant about running because I'm still not over the sinus infection I had last week. I felt a lot better about the whole expedition after that. I gave myself a mini goal of running home from the turnaround point and I managed to run most of the way, apart from the coughing fit. I was out for just over 25 minutes.

I've made a decision to start losing weight again. Being an advanced dieter (thanks Kathryn for the phrase) I know exactly what I need to do for me to regularly lose half a kilo a week. All I have to do is keep on doing it. I made a good start today. I've written down everything I've eaten, I've made my calorie and exercise targets for the day, I've drunk plenty of water and I've bought lots of healthy food for the next few days.

The last few times I've decided to lose weight I've been half-hearted about the effort, and I've managed to sabotage myself almost before I've started. This time I'm feeling really positive about my decision. I've decided to enlist help from people, which is new for me. Hopefully it will make a difference. I've really noticed that exercising with people makes it easier, so I'm hoping that losing weight with people will also make it easier. I've decided to set myself some mini goals and rewards, as this was really effective when I lost weight before. I just have to work out what the rewards are. Instead of starting over Christmas and setting myself up for failure, I deliberately waited until after the holidays. It's much easier for me to manage my eating when I'm away from home.

I had planned to go for a swim today. I was going to swim and run this morning, but when I was so reluctant to get out of bed I decided that I'd just run and that I'd swim this evening. Then I realised it was very hot and it's school holidays. I just couldn't face a crowded swimming pool this evening, so I went for a walk instead. When I lost most of my weight previously I was doing a lot of walking so I am going to try to keep up my step count. Mind you, I wasn't organised enough to take the pedometer out of the aggravating plastic packet today, so I have no idea how many steps I took. I walked down to the swimming pool then to the supermarket and home. I was out for a little over an hour.

Tomorrow the plan is for a swim and a run. Hopefully I'll manage both.