Thursday, 30 August 2012

Healthy Living Freed Me From My Life of Lethargy

I have not lost the plot (well…), whilst I know it’s not Tuesday, today I’m joining Healthy Living Blogs’ Healthy Living Tuesdays where the subject is “Healthy Living Freed Me From…”.  I wish there were one single word I could insert at the end of that sentence that could encompass how much healthy living has changed me, both physically and mentally.

Many of you know that when I started my weight loss journey in January this year, I weighed 240 pounds.  It was nearly my all time heaviest weight.  I was sluggish, exhausted and yawning constantly, had zero energy, my skin suffered greatly and I fought constant acne breakouts on my face (while other areas of my skin, such as my legs, were so dry and itchy).  I also had horrible bouts of low blood sugar, which caused me to binge uncontrollably.  I knew that I not only wanted to lose weight and improve my appearance, I also wanted to get healthy.

Me at nearly 240 pounds
Part of my problem came from an undiagnosed adrenal fatigue condition (you can read more about that here).  I went to see a naturopath in London who prescribed natural supplements that would correct this imbalance.  This helped greatly with improving my energy levels and I now also no longer suffer with low blood sugar. 

Regarding my diet - I had previously followed the principles of the GI & GL Diets and knew that the science behind them was just good common sense – eat healthy, whole, nutrient rich foods – feel fuller for longer.  Whilst I haven’t followed either the GI or the GL to the letter, I do employ a lot of the principles in choosing what foods I eat on a daily basis.

I also started looking at the ingredients of what I was eating in much more detail.  A lot of so called “low fat” or “low sugar” foods are actually stuffed with artificial sweeteners or E numbers – thankfully I’ve never been one to rely on artificial sweeteners, but the thought of eating foods (or serving these types of foods to my children) really made me feel sick. 

I switched from sugar to Xylitol – this is a natural alternative to sugar that is not only lower in calories than sugar, but it also doesn’t create the spike in blood sugar and is even suitable for diabetics (most importantly to me, it has no aftertaste)!  I also changed my normal breakfast cereal to a low GL granola (Lizi’s) with all natural ingredients.  My standard lunchtime sandwich has been replaced with lentils, couscous, pasta, salads and low fat fish.  I’ve also kicked my soda habit (having switched to sparkling water instead).

The results have not just been confined to weight loss!  I’ve enjoyed a massive improvement in my complexion (no more acne – woohoo!), an annoying hoarse voice that plagued me previously is now gone, my energy levels have come on leaps and bounds, I no longer struggle with sluggishness and feeling tired – all this combined means that I can enjoy life to the full now!  Even more importantly – by improving my energy levels, it also means that I can enjoy my new found passion of running!

So, to finish that sentence: Healthy Living Free Me From my life of lethargy.  My life has not only changed for the better because I feel better about how I look and have more energy, but I can also be a better mother to my children, and crucially, set a healthy example for them to follow.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


First off be sure to check out my guest post today over at Half Size Me.  Thanks to Heather for giving me the opportunity to share my story ;).

I was trying to decide whether it would be better to run today and have a rest day tomorrow (the day before my race), or have a rest day today and run tomorrow - but I think my evening meal has made that decision for me!  I made one of my favourite low cal main courses - Goan Prawn Curry.  I've added the recipe to my recipes tab and really recommend it - it's quite spicy but can be calmed down for little ones, if needed.  Trouble is - a belly full of curry and rice doesn't sit well with an evening run :(.  I actually think it would be better to run tomorrow anyway - a sort of "warm up" before the race on Friday.

My kids go back to school on Monday, so tomorrow I have a day off tomorrow and plan to try to get everything organised then.  My son needs new trainers and I'm sure they both need various bits of stationery - so I will doubtlessly be traipsing around all those shops!  I'm determined this year to not be the disorganised mother!  We shall see how long that lasts and I'm sure I'll be complaining on here about something I've forgotten or something that has been misplaced!


After my post yesterday, I've been doing a little research about the gym near where I live and have found that it's £37 per month for all activities (or £33 for one activity - which would mean that I could ONLY go to the gym, I couldn't do any of the fitness classes, or swim).  In the whole scheme of things, £37 per month for the gym, here in England anyway, it darn right cheap.  Most gyms charge £50 upwards per month and many of them don't have pools or fitness studios.  So, I suppose it is good value for money.

By comparison, your average treadmill costs in the region of £400-600 and some of those don't even have an incline!  Plus, I started thinking that my track record with personal gym equipment has not been the best.  First - there was the rickety old exercise bike (and the freezing cold garage in winter), then there was the mediocre cross-trainer.  I'm sure there was a rower in there somewhere too...  All of them were either consigned to the scrapheap, or sold on eBay for a small percentage of what I paid for them. Paying monthly for a gym membership, that I can literally cancel during the summer months when I love exercising outside, definitely seems to be the way to go.

I appreciate this is quite a stark contrast to my previous post, No Gym Membership Required, and I don't mean to be a hypocrite here.  My main reasons for hating the gym have been motivated by saving money and not feeling that I have to compare myself with others.  Somehow I'm going to have to overcome that last one!  As mentioned in yesterday's post, I really don't want to give myself any excuses for stopping running simply because there's not enough daylight!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A missing lion

My race pack arrived today.  I feel sick.  I feel SO nervous that I will be outclassed by all the other runners at this event and I've literally been searching my mind all week to come up with an excuse not to go through with it.  I guess I'm scared that I will be last - I shouldn't have checked previous race times - that's really messed with my brain!  But - I've just got to get on with it and stop being such a baby!  Everyone starts somewhere and I know many moons from now when I'm running my first marathon (ha!), I'll sit back and remember how nervous I felt running my first 5k!

My nervousness hasn't been helped by rumours that there is a lion loose in Essex - and supposedly in the very same town where my race is on Friday!  The authorities now actually think it's a hoax - but I must admit having trepidations when I went for my run last night - I even kept one headphone out when I was running past a field just listening out for the pounce and roar!  Evidently, they think it's a big ginger tom cat and people have got confused?!  Seriously people?!!  How the hell can you confuse a CAT with a LION?!
I'm sexy and I know it
My post-holiday weigh in was up 2 pounds from before I left.  I weighed myself the day we went and I was 185.4 pounds - Monday's weigh in was 187.2 pounds.  I did weigh myself again this morning and I was back down to 185.5!  I'm hoping that next Monday there will be a decent loss because we did so much climbing last week, combined with my 5k race on Friday.  Plus my eating is getting back to normal, without the temptations of eating out and desserts, etc.


So, Saturday is the 1st of September and earlier this week I started to worry about daylight running hours.  I'm worrying about everything lately!  But seriously - we are really far north and in the winter months it gets dark here at 4:30pm!  We live in a bit of a rural area and basically, running on my own at night is not a wise idea - not that anything has ever happened around here, but I wouldn't feel comfortable, so as I see it I have three choices -

1. I can run during my lunch hour at work (pros: daylight, cons: sweaty betty all afternoon)
2. I can invest in a treadmill (pros: running available at home regardless of time of day/weather, cons: treadmills cost a lot of money)
3. I can join a gym (pros: treadmills, plus other equipment available, cons: I have to travel to the gym, it costs money and you all know that I loathe the place!)

I'm unsure what to do.  If we're talking about spending money part of me thinks that the money I would be paying to join a gym could actually be going to pay for my own treadmill.  I don't really think that running at work is an option - I get seriously sweaty when I run and there aren't shower facilities available where I work, so it would be a case of spraying deoderant and holding your noses around Mary!  I've never run on a treadmill before, but I don't want to stop running and I feel that when the daylight hours start closing in it would be more likely for me to start making excuses for sitting on my arse!

Advice would greatly be appreciated here!  How many of you own your own treadmills and do you find it's better than the gym?

I hope you all have a great week and wish me luck for Friday!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Lake District 2012 - Holiday recap and photos

For the past five years or so our main family summer holiday has been spent in the Lake District.  My late mother in law passed on her love for this amazingly beautiful part of England.  In addition to the beauty of the area, she also introduced me to the writings of Alfred Wainwright.  For those not familiar with Wainwright, he was a gifted author and artist who literally devoted his life to painstakingly map every fell in the Lake District.  All of his guides were handwritten and beautifully illustrated.  He had a wicked sense of humour to boot - so reading his books has become a favourite pastime of mine.  So well known are his writings that the fells in the Lake District have affectionately become known as "Wainwrights".  I've added a new page to the blog, listing my summits thus far!  There are 214 in total - we'll see if I can climb all of them!

We were pleased to add four new summits to our list of accomplishments - we actually climbed five, but the fifth (The Dodd), we've climbed at least ten times previously!  At just over 1600 feet, we tend to "warm up" with this one every year as it's such a pleasant walk (albeit steep) and the views from the summit are some of the best to be seen in Lakeland.  So, this is where we started on Sunday.  But before I tell you about what we climbed, etc, I wanted to just take a little step back to this time last year... While we were away I happened to find a video on my husband's phone of us climbing Blencathra (alt 2848 ft) last year - I was the last one up, huffing and puffing and nearly ready to die when I reached the summit (it's very windy at the top, so apologies about the sound - and I haven't figured out how to edit, so you get to see everyone else reach the summit too!):

I got to the top through pure determination alone, but I think you can see how unfit I was.  This year was a different story altogether!  Unfortunately we didn't take any videos of me bounding up the summits, but suffice to say, though they were all hard work, I didn't struggle to get up one!

Back to the recap: On Sunday, we went to a lovely little restaurant out in the back of beyond for lunch and reckoned we would climb the Dodd to burn off our lunch!  On Sunday's, Mae's Tearoom (in a beautiful old converted school in Uldale) serves a roast dinner - it was roast beef with Yorkshire Puddings the size of my head!  I was smitten from the moment we walked in the door - and the food was delicious too!

At Mae's Tearoom

The initial stiff climb up the Dodd

Me at the Summit of the Dodd
The forecast for the week was dire - rain nearly every day.  On Monday, however, like seasoned fellwalkers - we were out the door with sandwiches packed on our way to climb Great Gable!  Great Gable is one of the higher fells in the Lake District (alt 2949ft), and would also serve as our highest summit of the week.  Our walk began at the tiny little village of Seathwaite - about 20 minutes drive from Keswick.  I wish I had taken a photograph, but there is actually a plaque as you drive into the village that says it is officially the wettest place in England - with the most rainfall each year!  And yes, it did rain while we were there!

We had a bit of a walk to even get to the "start" of our walk to the summit, but there was lots of interest along the way.  I hadn't realised, but this was also a frequently used path to get to the tallest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, and sadly we met a couple on the summit of Great Gable who believed they had climbed the Pike only to realise when they met us (and another couple who had just come from Green Gable) they were on the wrong mountain!

It's a long way to the top!

On the final path up the side of Great Gable

Me at the summit of Great Gable

Descending Gable in the mist...
Tuesday was deservedly a rest day, so we drove down to Ambleside and took a short cruise on Lake Windermere.  This was a very busy place - lots of young families and people who come to the Lakes not for walking (how they could possibly visit the Lake District and not go for even a short walk is beyond me!).  I happened to snap this cheeky picture (pun intended):
Say "no" to crack
Now, it's very breezy on these boats as the sides are open, so I reckon this dude knew what he was doing - in any case, it did make me laugh - a lot.

Wednesday came and the chosen mountain(s) were Red Pike with a possibility of going on to ridge walk the High Stile range next to it.  Again, the weather was not cooperating and as we drove into Buttermere - the village where our walk would start - the tops of the mountains were all in mist.  Our walk started by the lake and ascended steeply to a tarn (a pond) where we would climb again.  We decided to just get up there and see what it was like before making a decision to continue with the ridge walk.  Now I should start this by saying that I can read a map, but I can't use a compass - so navigating in the mist is not going to happen and Red Pike does have some sheer drops from the summit, so I wasn't about to hike off in one direction, kids in tow, trying to find a ridge!

I love Buttermere - it's easily my favourite place in the Lakes.  The mountains there have a sort of fairy tale beauty - tall, black, majestic and inspiring.  But, Red Pike seems to be the odd man out.  The summit is covered with thick red clay and scree (loose rock) - giving it its name.  This would be our very first encounter with scree and with a summit that required a scramble.  I should have known when my father in law recounted his summit with my mother in law quite a few years ago - she sat down and refused to go up.  On her third separate attempt, she made it to the top.

The scrambling described on the route description was "easy" - if that's easy scrambling, I would seriously hate to encounter "hard"! I do not have a head for heights - hard to believe for someone who enjoys climbing mountains, but most of the time when heights are involved, I just take it really slow, keep my head down, swear profusely (because my kids are usually a mile ahead of me!) and get on with it!  Due to the tricky nature of this summit, we all had to stay very close together.  I went up first, followed by both kids and then my husband.  I made it - but it was not an experience I would like to repeat and for once I think going up a mountain in mist was beneficial as I couldn't see the drops around me!

Looking back down the Buttermere valley

The start of the steep scramble - the summit is in mist

At the summit of Red Pike

A particularly tricky bit - about the only time I smiled! (over that ledge is a sheer drop!)

Guess what mountain we've just come down?!
Needless to say, I was happy to get that one in the bag and get the heck off the summit!  The mist was getting thicker on the summit, so we decided to pass on the ridge walk.  The Dodd (separate Dodd than the one mentioned earlier) was literally a leisurely walk next door - so we went to the summit to tick another one off the list.  Sadly, it's not a Wainwright, but it's little more than a hill and unfortunately was shrouded in mist so the amazing views we would have had from the summit were blocked :(.

Thursday again was another "rest" day and we decided to take another lake cruise - but this time at Ullswater.  My father in law came with us and we even had lunch at a pub he used to go to when he was a young man!  It's at the top of a hill in Glenridding and is called The Travellers Rest.  Easily one of the smallest pubs I've ever been to - but what they lack in size of the building, they make up for in abundance on your plate!  HUGE portions!  Thankfully, I just ordered a sandwich, but even that was big!

Friday, we were toying until the very last minute about which fell to climb.  My daughter was pretty exhausted and protested at climbing anything, so we settled on a small climb - little more than a hill just north of Bassenthwaite called "Binsey".  Binsey is pretty much just a grass and heather covered hill - but I was intrigued to climb it because Wainwright says that the views from the summit are some of the finest in Lakeland and I would be inclined to agree.  It took us about 45 minutes to reach the summit and a grand total of about 15 minutes to get down again!  Quite possibly the quickest climb ever - but I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has a spare hour in the lakes!

Binsey 1467 ft

The beautiful tree lined avenue at the start of our walk

Old stone gate


The view of lakeland from Binsey summit

You can see why I love it!

And here I am with one of my handy Wainwright guide books! (By the way, I'm talking here which is why my mouth looks weird!)
We drove back yesterday and the rain was seriously heavy!  I hate driving (or even being a passenger!) in the rain!  Thankfully we made it home safely.  All total, we walked 23.5 miles.  I tracked all of my food - even though internet access was sketchy, hopefully all of my logins on MFP will still count!  I haven't weighed myself yet, but will wait until tomorrow.  I did eat more than I normally would, but even if there is a weight gain, I know it will come off as quickly as it went on.  And the best thing is that my leg muscles got a serious workout last week!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Guest post from Fighting the Fat - Finding the Right Mix...self talk

This guest post comes from my very good friend Mandie, who blogs over at Fighting the Fat.  Mandie and I grew up together - we were best friends in high school and she is the only friend who I've managed to consistently keep in touch with all these years since leaving the USA.  

Me and Mandie on graduation day, 1994
Mandie has lost an amazing 75+ pounds and is such an inspiration to me!  Her post proves that it takes a lot of hard work and determination every single day not only to lose weight - but to keep it off for good...

After losing 75+lbs and still not being at goal you would think one would have the determination and motivation to bust butt and finish the race.  Yeah, me too.  Unfortunately that has not been the case for me and my weightloss journey with 30’ish more pounds to go.  
At my heaviest weight - 233 lbs
Honestly, I still struggle every day, even after losing the weight 7 years ago.  It becomes an everyday battle of making the right/healthy choice.  To make myself workout, when all your workout buddies have fizzled out and you go alone.  It’s depressing when you regain weight you thought was gone forever…and you don’t even know how it happened.  A few missed workouts leads to a week.  A few bad meals or drinks turn into more and more every day.  Then before you know it you’re struggling to eat right and make yourself workout.

Yes my friends, I struggle EVERY DAY.  I wish I could say that it was easy.  And, at times it IS easy.  But once you let yourself slide back, it’s brutal to get back into the groove with the right habits..  This is me right now.  Since the start of 2012 I have regained about 14lbs.  I’m at an unhappy place/weight.  I miss workouts, when I used to go EVERY day.  I let the weekends get the best of me with my eating, and most times they flow over to the next week.  But then when I get on the scale every Thursday, I hate it.  I remember a time when I consistently went to the gym and eating the right things was easy.  I wrack my brain trying to figure how did I get here, and how do I get back? 

Well, for starters, I have to accept that I am not perfect, and cannot be.  That’s the first thing with everything.  I have to let go of the past, of the history associated with my ups and downs.  I have to just tackle it.  Take a deep breath and KNOW I can do it.  Believe in it….believe in me!!!!

And this…this is my reminder I must look at every day, it will help me remember....

I have a weekly menu and abundance of healthy foods in the fridge
Workout at lunch
Run and other cardio (running makes my legs shapely!)
Do Strength Training 3 times/week
Log my food intake

Eat crap, sometimes even waste money on eating out
Eat in the lounge at lunch (work “break room) with co-workers and never feel satisfied/full with what I bring to eat
Stop running for months and skip workouts
Have to go back to square one to tone my flabby gut, butt and arms
Think in my mind I’m doing okay…when in fact I snack here and there and am not honest with myself (fail!)
Don’t drink anything…get dehydrated and feel hungry!

This all leads to me not seeing any progress and feel discouraged, unhappy and depressed with myself.  Physically feel cruddy too!

But I must remember, I’m human.  I’m going to slip up.  The inner cupcake loving fat girl will try to resurface.  And she may even do it for a little while, maybe even for 6 months.  But deep down I know I’m happier the other way and that I will do everything in my power to get back to the right place.  I will find that right mix and move forward….again.  The main goal is to never go back to that unhappy 233lb woman.  Yeah, I never will be her again.     

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Guest Post from Back at Square Zero

When I started thinking about incorporating some guest posts onto my blog, literally the first person who came to mind was Abby!  I've been following Abby's blog for a month or so now and was inspired by her determination with running and adopting a new, healthier lifestyle.  I'm sure you'll be inspired by her story too...

Hi guys, I'm Abby and I normally blog over at BackatSquare0, but am extremely excited to be here with you all today.  My blog focuses on my story of learning to live healthy.  One of the biggest steps along this journey has been getting active and learning to be consistent with my exercise.  I discovered I actually enjoy running (most days) and set a goal - to turn myself from the girl who couldn't even run to her own mailbox into a marathon runner.  I'm currently training for my second, the Marine Corp Marathon, this October in DC. 
One thing I have noticed happening  a lot lately is the discussion on what makes someone a runner.  I have reflected on this on many runs and wanted to share with you what makes me feel like a runner and let you see if these apply to you too.

Top 5 Reasons to Feel Like a Runner:
5. You Skip Activities to Run - Friends are shocked when they call and ask you to a movie, brunch, etc. and you say "Sorry, I've got a run."  They wonder why you don't just skip it and think you're a bit crazy.  However, sticking to your running plans makes you feel good about yourself as a runner. 
4. You Have Run in Pouring Ran, Freezing Cold, or Blazing Hot - Miserable isn't it?  It you have pushed through any of this you're a runner for sure.
3. You Desperately Want to Stop, but Don't - Every fiber of your body is exhausted, or bored, or just over it, and all you want to do is stop and walk, but you don't you keep running.  Now that's a runner!
2. You Set Running Goals - Whether it is your first 5K or marathon, a new race PR, or new running workouts you find that you suddenly have running related goals.  Only runners set running goals, looks like you're a runner. (To PR MCM is my next big goal.)
1. You Run! - This is the biggest and most important one.  Do you run?  Then guess what… You're a runner!  It doesn't matter if you run a sub six minute mile or a fifteen minute mile.  If you’re an Olympic runner or tackling your very first 5K.  I've got great news for you - We are all runners!  So rejoice in the fact that you are a runner and do your best to encourage and praise all the other runners you know. 

I'd love to hear about your journey.  If you ever have any questions, need motivation, or just want someone to brag to about how you stuck to your goals please let me know.

Please feel free to connect with me:

Twitter/Instagram: @BackAtSquare0 
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Friday, 17 August 2012

Packing, Socks and other oddities

Our annual trip to the Lake District is upon us!  We leave tomorrow and boy, do I feel like I need a holiday!  Sometimes I feel like I'm running on empty all the time and this week especially as I've been nursing a cold - which unfortunately means I've not been for a run since Sunday!  I've been sitting on my backside all week and feeling very frustrated!  Last night, however, I did perk up long enough to fit in a Jillian Michaels Kettlebell workout, so I felt as if I at least made some progress.

Today has been spent packing - probably one of my most hated jobs!  Who remembers Snoopy and his famous "bleah" noise?  Well - that's my reaction to packing!

I've said before that I am not a very organised person and packing requires organisation in abundance!  Bleah!  I hesitate to call myself lazy - because clearly I'm kicking ass and taking names on the fitness front - no way am I a lazy girl!  BUT - when it comes to pairing up socks after laundry, I'm NOT that girl!  Little do I realise that this not only frustrates my husband no end in the mornings when he is looking for a pair to wear to work - but it was also very frustrating for me packing for our holiday!

Sock after sock was pulled from my husband's drawer with literally NO sign of their mates anywhere!  Seriously - where do these socks go?!  Even if they are not paired in the washing machine, they all get washed and therefore they should all end up in the drawer.  I don't use a tumble dryer, so the socks go from washing machine, to washing line, to drawer - somewhere in between these three locations is a veritable Sock Twilight Zone.

Sockie no mates...
Despite the lack of sock pairs, I have managed to nearly complete the packing - including virtually all the contents of my kitchen!  We generally always go "self-catering", which means that despite the fact we're on holiday - I still have to cook.  Strangely, I don't mind this.  I actually really enjoy cooking.  Even more than that, it means that I can still reliably maintain control over my calories while we're away.  By the time you've packed all the dry ingredients like pasta, tins of tomatoes, beans, fruit juices, bottles of water, spices, salt, coffee (a must!) you've virtually filled your car before you've even left the house!  Thankfully my father in law is coming with us and driving his own car, so we can share the load.

This year I'm trying to be as organised as possible with food (food, yes I can organise, socks, not so much!) - so I've managed to get most of our food (apart from the fresh stuff like milk, meat, butter and cheese) here and we will take it up with us.  I've done the 'buy it all from a local grocery store' idea before - but it ends up costing a small fortune!  Another good money saving tip, seeing as I'm on that subject, is packing your own lunches.  Since we mostly go on day walking trips when we're in the Lakes, I always pack our lunch so we can find a scenic stop and enjoy our sandwiches.  This is a must for longer walks, but makes good sense in my opinion anyway!

So - while I'm away from reliable internet access (and it is quite patchy up in the Lakes!), I've arranged for a couple of guest posts, which, all being well, should come up on Sunday and Wednesday, respectively.  In the meantime, make sure you're following me on Twitter (@walksinthewoods), as I'll be tweeting about our summits conquered and other lakeland adventures!  I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A Walk in the Woods on Facebook!

I'm off work today.  It was supposed to be a day to spend with the kids, but whilst they're running around playing on the Wii, their bikes, etc, I'm sat on the sofa with a tissue shoved up my nose (sorry TMI)!  In typical "sod's law" fashion, we are due to go away to the Lake District on Saturday for a week of fell walking and yes, I'm getting sick!  In addition to that I've had two unscheduled rest days, in all likelihood it will now be three to four and I'm worried that whatever this is won't shift before we leave for our holiday!

So, I don't know if it's the cold medicine talking, but this morning I created a Facebook page for A Walk in the Woods.  You can "LIKE" it by clicking on the link over here ----->

What's even more bizarre is that I've just invited umpteen of my friends to Like the page, which means if those friends visit my blog everybody will know how much I weigh!  Normally I would cringe at this thought, I'm not happy advertising those digits, but then it occurred to me - I've lost 54 pounds!  That's not something to be ashamed of!

I'm coming clean, I guess.  Admitting to all whom I know in social networking that, yes, I was a great big fat thing - but this time I've cracked it!  Not only have I found the key to losing weight (for me), but also discovered some fantastic activities that will help me maintain that loss.  OK - I haven't reached my ultimate goal yet - but I know I can reach it and more importantly, I know I will!  Another thought that occurred to me was that there may be other friends of mine who are interested in getting fit or losing weight and don't know where to start.  Maybe, in some small way, they would be inspired by something I've written.  So - to all of my Facebook friends reading this, thanks for visiting :-)


Last night I had another crazy idea (seriously, what do they put in this cold medicine?!).  I want to try to play a team sport.  This may not sound like a crazy idea - but my experience of team sports was limited to trying out (and failing) for the middle-school volleyball team.  When I was in school, I was not interested in sports at all, in fact I loathed them - I avoided them at all costs.  Why I chose to try out for volleyball, I'm not sure.  I did enjoy it and I was disappointed that I didn't make the team - whether making the team would have changed my view of sports I don't know.

My husband on the other hand is an all rounder!  He has played, at any given time in his life, in football teams (that's soccer to all you Americans!), cricket teams, badminton, squash, etc.  He's one of those annoying people who seems to be good at whatever sport he tries (hopefully he's reading this!).  I, in stark contrast, don't seem to be much use at any sport - but I figured this is because I've never really tried!  So, last night I asked him to teach me a bit of Badminton.

Badminton is fascinating to me - I watched the players on the Olympics and were just staggered at the speed of play.  I'm not for a second thinking that I would ever be able to get to that sort of speed or standard, but aside from flicking a shuttlecock around the garden, I'd like to learn how to play properly. The husband has agreed to book us a badminton court and he's going to teach me (he will need some serious patience!) and then I'm going to look at joining our little village badminton club.  Watch this space for news and embarrassing pictures...

Monday, 13 August 2012

So now what will I do?!

So the Olympics have finished.  Done.  Great Britain finished third on the medal table, which considering the population of the two countries who finished first and second, compared with the population of Britain - is pretty amazing.  I may have been born in America, but for the past two weeks I've been very proud to be British.  So now that the games are done - what on earth will I watch on TV?!

I'm actually not that much of a telly addict.  All the exercise and blogging gets in the way!  I'm much more of a blog addict than a TV addict, but I suppose having the Olympics in the background for the last two weeks has become so much the norm that I'm starting to wonder what on earth I did before!

This weekend has been quite busy - not filled with anything particularly exciting, per se, just normal stuff that never gets done.  On Saturday morning, for example, I proceeded to clean the stove with all those special stainless steel and glass cleaners you buy but never use!  It was sparkling.  My mom would have been proud.  Then I decided to organise my jewellry.  It had all been chucked into a bowl and necklaces were tangled, etc.  I have these lovely necklace and earring stands that were literally gathering dust in my bedroom - well, now dusted off and voila - organised bliss!

Clearly, dusting behind the organised necklaces was not part of the plan!
In fact, I did so much cleaning and organising on Saturday, I started to think I might be pregnant and 'nesting'!!!

I did my 5k training on Friday evening and Sunday evening.  Friday was a 28 minute run, and Sunday was a 22 minute run.  Both were quite hard work.  I'm not sure why, but I felt quite sluggish during both runs.  I did have relatively big meals before both runs, but left sufficient time between eating and exercising.  It may have been the heat - this weekend has been a real scorcher for England.  Either way, I just didn't feel my best.  My pace wasn't bad though - it's gradually improving  and that's what counts.

I got a little bit freaked out because I have a 5k race coming up on 31st August - my first 'proper' 5k race!  Anyway, I looked online at the finishing times for previous races and they are ridiculously fast - seriously, the slowest person to finish was like a 70 year old women who finished in 35 minutes!  I'm actually starting to worry that I may have bitten off more than I can chew!  Part of my says "Go on - do it!  It doesn't matter if you finish last, the point is that you finished!".  But another part of me is saying "Are you crazy?!  Do you want to finish behind a 70 year old woman?!".  I'm seriously torn, but I'm not making any decisions right now.

So, speaking of TV.  Melinda over at Does this scale make me look fat has a blog hop and the question this week is:

What is your TV guilty pleasure?

Hmmmm.... having just said earlier that I don't watch that much TV, I guess I should probably clarify that!  I do watch a lot of TV shows on DVD.  This is mainly because I like to watch something just before I go to bed and - confession time - I do like to watch the same episodes and series quite a lot.  A friend of mine recently introduced me to Big Bang Theory and I have to say that I absolutely love it.  In a weird way, it sort of reminds me of high school.  I was always friends with the science geeks, and not being particularly intellectual myself, I always felt a bit like the Penny in the group - the eye candy!  Ha!  Anyway - I love Big Bang Theory.  Sheldon is without doubt my favourite.  For those of you who watch it, I love 'Soft Kitty' and I love the fact that Sheldon calls his grandma 'memaw' (I called my grandma 'mamaw' - so I relate!).

OK, that's my confession - now it's your turn!  Join in the blog hop - it's a great way to get new readers for your blog!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A new respect for walking

I've been so focused on 5k training lately that walking has taken a bit of a backseat.  I still love walking, and will be doing a lot of it when we go to the Lake District later in the month.  But, because I've literally fallen in love with running - every time I go out to exercise, it has been to run.  I suppose what it comes down to, is that I started to think that walking (compared to running) is the easy option.

I can honestly now say that I was wrong.  This morning, we did what we've been doing for the last two weeks - watched the Olympics!  I noticed that the finish of the Men's 50k Walk was on - yes - that's right 50k (or 31 miles)!!!  Not being familiar with racewalking, I googled it.  Basically, one foot has to maintain contact with the ground at all times.  In order to do this and to maintain a race speed they propel their pelvises forward and this gives them a unique little 'wiggle'!

I was a bit skeptical at first ("Walking, an Olympic sport?!"), but when these dudes started crossing the finish line, I knew this was no joke.  Man, after man crossed the finish line and collapsed into a heap.  Olympians were literally being carted away in wheelchairs as their bodies gave in from exhaustion.  I was hazard a guess that 80% of the men who finished either collapsed, or 'wobbled' and needed assistance.  What those men will feel like tomorrow is anybody's guess, but suffice it to say I think any amount of muscle soreness, blisters, or any pain we mere mortals have experienced in our fitness journeys probably doesn't even come close!


I've been thinking the past few days about inspiration.  I've been inspired by so many people in the blogging community - ordinary people, like me, with families and jobs and busy lives - who have done extraordinary things in terms of weight loss and fitness.  I'm really grateful to have that inspiration - in fact I would go so far as to say that I wouldn't have got this far in my journey without it.

But these last couple of weeks watching the Olympics, I've found myself with renewed inspiration.  This time the inspiration comes from the extraordinary people - the Olympians.  The people who literally personify fitness. I suppose it comes down to the fact that Olympians prove that anything is possible if you work hard enough.

So, the next time I'm out for a run (or a walk!) and my body is hurting, I'm struggling to catch my breath, and I want to give up, I'm going to think about those amazing racewalkers - literally pushing themselves with everything that is within them to finish.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A Worthy LadyLike Challenge

I've been inspired to share a challenge with you from Abby at Back At Square Zero.  Abby noticed a quote in this month's Fitness magazine
"Women try to one-up each other when it comes to weight, looks and clothes.  Men compete over money and salary." 
This quote really struck home with me, as I know that I have had particularly unhealthy friendships in the past where the focus has been "who is the skinniest", "who has the nicest clothes" and "who is the prettiest".  All these comparisons only serve one purpose: to bring us down!

I've written previously on why I utterly loathe going to the gym - precisely for this reason.  I'm constantly comparing myself to others and in turn feeling like an utter failure!  In addition to affecting my confidence - I found myself judging others!  I don't know what it is that makes us compare ourselves with others in this way, but we definitely need to focus more on the positives, rather than the negatives!  For me, the gym environment breeds these thoughts in my head, which is why I avoid it!

Instead of competing against each other, we need to encourage each other!  This is one of the reasons why I love the blogging community SO much - because it enables me to interact with others in a positive way! 

Abby has posted a challenge this week and I wanted to share it with all of you.  The challenge is:
  1. Compliment a stranger – You can do this in person (while running errands, at the gym, etc.) or leave a note (on a dinner check, a post-it stuck to a mirror, etc.).
  2. Compliment a friend – Call them up, send a letter, or do it in person.
  3. Compliment yourself – Sit down and think – What is it that I do well? What do I love about myself? Then say it out loud and remind yourself of it on a regular.
Abby suggests we do all three by the end of the week (so, end of Sunday) and then reflect on how it made us feel - focusing on lifting others (and ourselves) up instead of putting each other down.  I think this is such a worthy challenge and as Abby says - what a wonderful world this would be if everyone lived like this!

So this is my challenge to myself and to all reading this post!

I hope everyone has a fantastic rest of the week and enjoy the remainder of the Olympics!

Sunday, 5 August 2012


Today has been a good day!  I'm on a high after my successful 5k run yesterday, and SO many positive words of encouragement from all of you and from everyone on the Marathon Weight Loss Challenge board on Facebook.  You guys are all AWESOME!  It also occurred to me what a wonderful thing we are all witnessing here in our little blogging community...all over the world loads of people are taking their lives back and getting super fit!  Don't you think this is absolutely amazing?!  I am loving reading about people who not only have lost vast amounts of weight, but also people who just decided one day to start running.

I can't take credit for finding this video - but it's very inspiring.  Adam over at The Boring Runner posted it just before the 5k...

I am also on a high today because my favourite tennis player, Andy Murray, has just won the gold medal in the men's singles final!  I actually stood up and screamed when he won!  He is now playing for the mixed doubles gold medal - so hopefully today will be double gold!

This morning, I made cupcakes.  I haven't made cupcakes in a while - and actually today was the first Sunday when we've had a proper English roast dinner in weeks.  Today it was roast lamb and the cupcakes for dessert.  They were glorious, as expected - but it's amazing to think that in one little cake there is lurking over 500 calories!  Yikes!  Nice for an occasional treat, but definitely not an every day dessert!

Sprinkles make everything better!
I did go out for a run today.  I was toying with the idea of having a rest day, but Sunday is normally always my first run day of the week, so I wanted to stick with the training programme.  I'm now on week 8 of the 5k training and am running continuously now - it's just a matter of working on endurance and speed.  I can't believe that I've now effectively "graduated" into running after only 8 weeks!  It's pretty amazing that your body can adapt so quickly!

Today's run was short - 5 minute warm up walk, 20 minutes running, 5 minutes cool down walk.  I was pleased that my pace has actually picked up too!  Seeing all the 5k race times yesterday had me in awe and wonder - some people ran 5k in 20 minutes - that's less than half my time!  So today I really made an effort to increase my pace but without wearing myself out.  This is definitely what I need to concentrate on going forward.

The weekend is nearly over, but I can honestly say it's been a blast!  I hope you've all had a fabulous weekend too!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Sweating my thorns off 5k race report

Today is probably a day I'll remember for a long time, because for the first time in my life I ran 3.1 miles!  I cannot even believe that just a little over seven weeks ago I was a walker, not a runner.  I had tried running previously, but gave up quickly because it was hard work.  Discovering the C25K programme changed all of that and I discovered - hey, I can run!  I just want to say a special thank you to Adam at The Boring Runner for hosting the Sweat Your Thorns Off 5k virtual race!  He really gave me the motivation I needed to just get out there and do it!

So, this morning came and went and the weather here has been up and down - raining one minute, sunny the next.  I looked at the forecast and decided that I would do the race later in the afternoon.  I had lunch and then wanted to wait at least two hours after that for the race.  I drank a lot of water this morning to make sure I was properly hydrated - which means I literally spent most of the morning in the toilet! sorry TMI!  3:30pm came and I headed out.

I decided to start by walking one loop of the field next to our house - this was my warm up because I didn't want to start the run totally cold.  In all my 5k training, I've always started with a 5 minute warm up walk and I think this is an excellent idea.  I finished that quickly and soon it was time to push the start button!  The first part of the run for me is always the hardest.  My body is getting used to the motion, I'm finding my stride - it probably takes nearly a mile before I start to feel "comfortable" and where my breathing isn't quite so laboured.

I ran my usual loop, but dipped down some side roads - one which provided a full additional small loop and one that I literally just ran up and ran down.  The weather was quite hot all of the sudden and the sun was baking down on my back.  I started to really feel drained around mile 2.3.  I got a mild stitch in my side, so slowed my pace way down and tried to focus on my breathing.  Having checked my distance, I knew I could keep going, so just tried to keep focused.

When I was nearly home, I saw my husband drive past me in the car with my son in the back.  He slowed down and my son was waving frantically cheering me on!  It was a fantastic sight!  Actually throughout the whole run, every person I passed along the way offered a smile.

My official time was 42:33, which I don't think was bad for my first ever 5k attempt, and now means I have an official time to beat!

Gimme 5!  I sweated my thorns off!
I would just like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement, I really could not have done it without you!  I also want to thank God for giving me muscle in my legs and air in my lungs (and an iron-will determination to finish it!), my kids and husband for encouraging me always, my Asics for never letting me down and the Black Eyed Peas on my iPod for encouraging me to pump it!

I'm reading more and more reports of others who have participated in this race, so well done to everyone.  Laura at Spicing Up My Life completed hers this morning - well done Laura!!!  I'm looking forward to reading about everyone else's experiences soon :-)

Friday, 3 August 2012

I'm such a loser!

I wanted to just do a very quick post today because I had a sneaky midweek weigh in this morning and discovered that I'm firmly OFF the plateau and back onto a losing streak - WOOOHOOO!  I'm down another 2.3 pounds and I'm SO excited because this means I'm finally out of the 190's!

There are three factors that I can attribute this loss to:-

1. I haven't had any Pimm's this week
2. I have upped my calories to 1632 allowed per day.  I'm still struggling to reach this most days, however I'm averaging between 1450-1600.
3. I've been having a Click Protein shake every day at about 3pm

About Click... It really is not 'clicking' with me, but I'm drinking it more out of necessity than anything.  I struggle with mid-afternoon energy dips and also felt it would be a good way of getting a few more calories and a lot more protein into my diet.  I'm now on the lookout for a good plain chocolate flavoured protein shake because I'm not loving the Mocha flavoured Click.  It's a shame because I did think that a mid afternoon iced Mocha would be lovely, but I just can't get used to the flavour!

Today has been a fab day with that weigh in this morning, but I'm very worried for my virtual 5k race tomorrow because my throat is seriously feeling itchy and scratchy, so I hope I'm not coming down with something!  I'm due to run again this evening and will see how I feel afterwards before I decide whether or not to go through with the 5k race tomorrow.

So, I have been thinking about goals recently.  I think I mentioned previously that I had a goal to walk 500 miles so my sister in law could sing that song by The Proclaimers to me!  Well, I'm going to do it!  I'm up to 178 miles for the year already, which leaves 322 left.  There are 21 full weeks left in the year which works out at 15.33 miles per week - or just over 2.5 miles per day with a day's rest.  Between my regular walking and running I think this is wholly achievable - so this is my goal for the end of 2012!

I know Melinda at Does This Scale Make Me Look Fat has set some goals for August - you can read about them hereWhat are your goals for the remainder of the year?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Flitch Way

I went a little bit fitness mad today!  I did a 4.8 mile walk with the kids, followed by a 2.7 mile run when I got home!  More on the run later, but first - the walk!  I took the day off work to entertain the kids, so we drove about 40 minutes north to a town called Takeley to walk part of a path called "The Flitch Way".  This path has fascinated me from the moment I stumbled across it in one of my daughter's homework books.  Basically, it is named after something called "The Flitch Trials", an ancient tradition taking place in a nearby village every leap year where married couples - who can prove that they've been happily married for a year and a day - compete to win the trial and a "flitch" (or a side of bacon)!  I so loved the thought of this kind of tradition, that I've desperately been wanting to visit the path ever since!

The path itself is a disused railway line and goes from Takeley 15 miles east ending in Braintree.  As much as I would have loved to have attempted the full 15 miles, there's the small matter of getting back to your car, etc, - not to mention the fact that walking 15 miles in one day is a pretty big ask, even for a mega-fit person!  It actually took some patience to find the start of the path anyway because the "station" in Takeley is tucked behind houses, not sign posted from the road, so I had to do a wee bit of digging and take quite a few wrong turns before we eventually found it!  When we arrived, we noticed that the old train station is now council offices and there was a meeting taking place as we walked past the front door!  A very nice man came out and said we looked a bit lost, could he help us.  I told him we were looking for the Flitch Way and he directed us to an opening in the fence behind the station where you can access the trail.  He asked which direction we were heading, I told him we were going east towards Great Dunmow, but he recommended heading west which would bring us to Hatfield Forest - he said it was a much more interesting walk, so we decided to take his advice!

The start of our walk, Takeley old station is on the right
Me and Verity at one of the "stations"

This was sweet - a swing on a rope at the end of someone's garden
The fabulous thing about the trail is that it's very well maintained, mostly flat and very quiet.  A beautiful canopy of trees covers most of the path, so when it started raining about 30 minutes into our walk, it provided much needed cover!  We walked for about two miles before dropping down into the forest briefly.  There was no distinguishable path in the forest and I was worried about finding our way back to the main path, so I decided we should just re-trace our steps.

When we got back to the car, I decided to drive a few minutes to a pretty little village called Hatfield Broad Oak that we had driven through on the way.  It was a typical old English village with a beautiful stone church and crooked old buildings.  We wanted to find a tea shop to have a nice cup of tea (or coffee for me!) and a slice of cake, but apparently the only thing people in Hatfield Broad Oak like to drink is alcohol because there were two pubs and not a single tea shop!

Crooked old archway in Hatfield Broad Oak

Crooked old house
Frustrated, we started walking back to the car and Josh said "this village stinks", just very matter of fact!  It was SO funny!  An ice cream from the only shop in the village made up for it, though!  All in all it was a good day - I'm glad I finally got to see the Flitch Way and hopefully one day we will go back and do much more of it.

So, the reason I went a little bit mental today with my exercise is because I'm in a hurry to bring my running up to speed for Saturday.  A bit slow on the uptake, I noticed that Adam at The Boring Runner is hosting a virtual 5k race on Saturday called Sweat your Thorns Off 5k! Basically, anyone can join in and you just run 5k where ever you want!  He's got some wicked prizes up for grabs too!  I thought I would join in because I'm running a 5k race at the end of August and if I run the whole 5k on Saturday, it will be a good benchmark for me.

I repeated session 2 of my 5k training today so walked 5 minutes, ran 3, walked 3 and then proceeded to run the whole way home.  Walkmeter stopped counting after 25 minutes - but I reckon it was more like 27-28 minutes in total.  The run was fine - it was a bit hard going, but I figured that was due to my long walk earlier in the day, and the heat (it was HOT today!).  Now the only thing standing in my way is finding a 3.1 mile route!  I added a bit extra to my usual loop, but it only seemed to add about 0.20 of a mile - making the total about 2.7 miles.  My Walkmeter has a programme where you can set distance - so basically you tell it you want to run 3.1 miles and it will tell you when to stop.  I think I'll just have to do this on Saturday and hope I can find a bit more distance somewhere!

Well, that was my very busy, very active day!  Wish me luck for the race on Saturday!