Friday, 29 January 2010

Injury, Injury, oh how you mess with me

Had my first serious injury this week, since starting my regime in earnest. From what the experts say, I should probably have taken more notice of the causes of injury in the first place, so I would not be here, sitting on the sofa, unable to go to the gym and in pain.

The things I should have been doing to prevent injury were the following:

• Have a good 10-15 minute warm up, this could be on the treadmill, cross trainer or stationary bike

• Keep a good posture

• Maintain a good technique. If you are not sure how, have someone show you, like a gym instructor.

• If anything starts to hurt, stop.

• Always finish your workout with a good stretch [10-15mins involving all the major muscle groups]

Now I did all of those things apart from maybe the technique and stopping when it hurt [because I am a muppet]. I was doing a Kettlebell workout and I thought that looking on the internet at instructions would be sufficient in turning me into an expert, er, well, no not exactly and because of it, I really hurt my back. So much so I’ve had to not go to work, to avoid sitting at a desk all day and making it worse.

The best I can do just now is rest it, which involves not sitting about too much or my back just stiffens up on me and makes me walk like a special case of ‘riding legs’ [if you have ever been a horse for an extended period of time, you’ll know what I’m talking about]. When I do get back to the gym, I have an appointment with one of the personal trainers, so he can give me some pointers on how to not make the same mistake again.

And in the meantime, I’ll not be quite so ill prepared when taking on a new workout!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Don’t call it a diet





As you know from previous posts, I am making a concerted effort to watch my food intake as well as kill myself at the gym exercise regularly.


I have been tracking my food intake on Weight Watchers for the last year and would highly recommend it. There has been a lot written online and elsewhere, noting that tracking what you eat every day in a food diary or online, really helps with weight loss. When Lazy makes an appearance in my life all notions of tracking my food intake go right out the window and even when I've thought to myself ‘my god I am not eating THAT much each day, why the hell am I still not losing weight?’ it takes a real shock to get me tracking things again. It is ironic that actually tracking what I eat and how many cals etc I consume, is the way to SHOCK me into better eating and better choices.


Now I would stay with WW if it was a little better at tracking the nutritional values of food and had a better exercise list to choose from[ for instance there is no choice of resistance or weight training, which must mean us dainty little lady folks couldnt possibly wants to lift big, manly weights, could we??!!!??] but I have to say I have found a better FREE online resource that does all I need and more. It is a site called Spark People. I used the site a couple of years ago when I could not afford WW and I have to say it has got better and is without a doubt the best there is online. It really helps me keep track of my carbs, protein and fats consumed daily, which is more important than ‘points’ for me just now as I am trying to up my protein intake and lower my carbs. WW has worked for me, after all it got me to where I am today since last January and if you aint that fussed about the individual nutritional elements or the exercise options, then I would say go for it. However is you would prefer a free resource, that covers everything you need with lots of motivation, tips, recipes and forums, then Spark People is the way forward. Come join me!


Sunday, 24 January 2010

Burning fat [without the nasty smell]

I've been reading quite a bit lately about food, what to eat for optimum weight loss and how to work out and burn fat. Now as I have several tons of excess stores of fat[ I may be exaggerating but you get the picture] I would like to know that my workouts are going some way to burn the nasty little globules of yuck. From what I have read so far, it would seem the best way to burn fat in the body is to force your body to burn the fat stores for energy, rather than use the sugar/glucose provided by carbohydrates.

So the ideal way to do this is to restrict the amount of carbohydrate [just restrict, not eliminate completely] and exercise at a good/moderate intensity regularly to burn the fat. There is a wealth of science and knowledge out there, so do some good research if you want to know more. My resources have been Science of Sport, Mark's Daily apple and Fitness Black Book. Leo at Zen Habits just posted a great guide on how to stay lean, which is also worth a read.

I have worked out that I need the following nutritional intake in order to achieve fat burning and weight loss:

Calories: 1500 per day - of which I need the following:

Carbs = 80g
Protein = 130g
Fat = 30g

Surprisingly, or not as the case may be, that is not a lot of carbs and so some serious good food choices have to be made. Consider that half a wholewheat bagel = 43g of carbs means a hardcore limit on all the things I love but will need to say bye-bye to. Now this is not too much of an issue for me as it means I can eat a LOT of veggies to fill me up, which being vegan suits me down to the ground but the bigger issue is getting the protein without an increase in carbs/fat. One such way of increasing my protein intake is via soya protein powder, from which to make shakes/smoothies. I had one this morning with soya milk and blueberries and it was perfectly tasty and filled me up.

I have trawled the internet for the nutritional values of all the things I like to eat and made myself up a handy little spreadsheet to consult, when planning my meals. This is what my meals look like today

Breakfast
Protein shake with soya milk and bluberries
Carbs = 17.9
Protein = 52.6
Fat = 7.6
Cals = 317

Lunch
130g apple + 40g peanut butter + 100g blueberries
Carbs = 53
Protein = 9
Fat = 16
Cals = 370

Coffee with soya milk + 2 sugars
Carbs = 4
Protein = 2
Fat = 0.2
Cals = 52

total carbs so far = 74.9
total protein = 63.6
total fat = 23.8
total cals = 739

All that and I have not had my dinner yet, which needs to be high in protein to meet my daily amount and low or non-existant in carbs. Hard work aint it? I'll manage though as I know what veg to have and I'll have some tofu to up my protein. The key to all this is to do a little homework, plan meals in advance and make a handy guide, so you can make better food choices, Personally, I'm starting to see just how I managed to accumulate the amount of fat I have and I'm more determined than ever to burn it off!!!

small victory

Three weeks in to my new lifestyle change / exercise regime [or torturous punishment, whichever way you wanna look at it] and I thought I would give you a bit of an update before I rush off to my yoga class. I’m planning a post about how I have changed my eating habits and some examples of what I am eating daily to keep the calorie deficit in place but just wanted to share my current success.

Since starting [in earnest] on the 4th Jan 2010 I have lost the nasty 6 pounds I managed to accumulate during my three month ‘back to my lazy ways’ period, so woo hoo for me!! [I always think in terms of 500g bags of sugar to represent each pound, so think 6 x bags of sugar!!!]. I found some measurements from Sep 2008 and compared my tussle with the tape measure this morning, means I’ve lost 10inches lost across my body as well, so another woo hoo for me!!!

In summary, from Jan 2009:
Weight lost so far = 26lbs
Inches lost so far = 10


I’m feeling pretty chuffed with that, will certainly help motivate my lazy ass this week, to keep doing what I’m doing, because it is clearly working! I may post some before and after pictures when I come back from yoga [my zen state may well make me do it, so be warned]

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Pain is the name of this game

After a long, exhausting Wednesday last week, which involved a 5am rise to go to the gym, work all day and then college till late, I realised getting outta bed the next day, all fresh as a daisy was gonna be nigh on impossible [For the record, I’m not fresh anyway, more like a moaning, groaning Paleolithic pot plant, all dragging knuckles and scratching my butt while trying to not fall down the stairs on the way to the loo]

So this week I adjusted my schedule slightly to take my rest day on a Wed and train the rest of the week incl Sunday. Because most of my workouts are quite structured, in the form of a spin, body pump or dance class, for instance, at least 1 or 2 days out of 6 I like to make up my own little circuit in the gym or do my own thing in one of the studios [such as dance about like a demented badger in pink sweats and matching headphones. What?!? It’s fun!!]

I have been looking online, at you tube mostly, for specific workouts and training to incorporate into one of my ‘special McTofu workouts’, today it was resistance band training and sprints. So my workout went like this:

I started off with a 10min hill climb [gradient at 9] on the treadmill to warm up my legs [my effin left hamstring is determined to ping into injury any moment now so needs thorough warming up]

Then onto the mats with a 10kg bar weight to do some weighted squats, I did 2 sets of 15. I used the same bar for another 2 sets of 6 ‘clean and press’ lifts.

And then the resistance band, which, from now on will be referred to as the ‘Spanish Inquisition’. I did 2 sets of each of the exercises demonstrated in these helpful videos and sweet mother of the baby jeebus but my arms and shoulder may go on strike tomorrow, in fact, they are making placards and planning a picket line as we speak.

I then went on to do some ballet type plies [without the plinky plonky piano music or leotard] on the vibrating thingy, what’s it called, the Power Plate, that’s the thing and also did my 3 x sets of the plank on that as well.

As if all this was not torture enough, I decided to take some advice from a few other health and fitness bloggers and try out some sprints on the treadmill. I read that if you do not feel like vomiting right after your sprints, then you aint doing it right. I am pleased to say, I’m pretty sure my green, extremely sweaty face indicated I was indeed doing it right much to the horror of the pretty gym bunny doing a slow jog on the treadmill next to me ☺

So yes, all in all a good hard workout but I suspect my body is gonna shout at me tomorrow, well only long enough for me to drag it to the gym and put it through 45mins of body pump. That’ll teach it!

**Apologies for the numerous cheese-tastic demo videos, once I'm past the 'hippo in spandex' stage, I may create some of my own video demonstrations, for now though, you'll have to suffer it

Monday, 18 January 2010

Dante's inferno

Monday morning 7am spin class = 7th circle of hell.

That is all.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

It's gonna be a tough week




This last week I had to get used to being back at college on a Wednesday night, which meant one late night threw off my sleep patterns and exercise plan slightly. This is what I ended up doing:

Mon: 30mins interval training on treadmill + weights + abs
Tue: 45 body pump class
Wed: 5k run + weights + abs
Thu: rest
Fri: rest
Sat: salsa class
Sun: 60mins brisk walk

I need to up my game slightly this week, with more cardio and definitely more conditioning, so this is the plan:

Mon: 20mins weights + abs + 45mins spin
Tue: 20mins interval training on treadmill + 45mins body pump
Wed: 5k run + weights + abs
Thu: 60mins dance aerobics
Fri: 20mins interval training on treadmill + 45mins body pump
Sat: 45mins Pilates + 45mins Salsa class
Sun: rest

Someone at work asked to feel my bicep the other day and I had to laugh at their reaction, there is definitely some hardcore muscle in there[which I love], just need to work on burning off the surrounding fat!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

I want it yesterday already!


The phrase in the post title should give you a hint at my incredibly impatient nature and occasional tendency to mimic the vernacular of a Jewish New Yorker.

I have, in the past, been tempted at full, blown toddleresque tantrums if I thought it would speed things up. So yes, call me impatient and not virtuous at all. This is especially true of my numerous attempts at weight loss and so, it is no small wonder that I too, have fallen prey to the quick-fix charlatans of the diet and weight loss industry. These charlatans exist in their thousands and as Ross, over on the Science of Sport pointed out[read his series on weight loss, it’s great], if you search for ‘weight loss’ on Amazon it will yield results for 83,798 books!!!! Now that is a LOT of reading on the subject and I can pretty much guarantee that a hefty percentage, are all about the quick fix. I’m sure titles such as ‘Eat nothing but the rind of a guatamalan tangerine for 10 days and lose 30lbs’ or ‘Cleanse your colon with coffee laced berry shakes and lose 50lbs in 2 weeks!’*** are the kinds of promises you might find amongst those 80 odd thousand titles.

I know the quick fix well, in some instances, it does as it says on the tin and gives you the rapid weight loss you desire. You feel all smug, basking in the compliments of friends and family, when on attempting to go back to some semblance of a normal diet, put it all back on again [and usually put on more]. It is a supremely bang-head-on-desk-repeatedly kind of scenario, for which I may well have incurred some permanent brain damage, for the amount of times I have failed to learn from this obvious mistake. However, I am pleased to report that I am no longer lured by the promises of the quick fix because I have known and continue to use a marvelous magic formula that has worked for centuries and will continue to work for all eternity.

It is quite simple and it is, wait for it, drum roll please….

EAT LESS and MOVE MORE

Blindingly obvious but that formula, although guaranteed to work, does not in ANY way satisfy the need for things to happen in a speedy fashion. Frustrating as all hell I know but if you can concede that putting on weight usually happens over a sustained period of time, then so too will the effort to get it off again. Patience grasshopper.

So peeps, if you make a commitment to shifting the unwanted and unhealthy extra pounds[as I have], you gotta be in it for the long haul. This means a change in attitude to your lifestyle and eating habits for life because as the saying goes ‘If you do what you always did, then you’ll get what you always got’.

***[these are merely attempts at humour and not real titles of course]

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The big 'O'




So I have a confession. A tough, embarrassing confession but here it is…I’m ‘clinically obese’. This may not be a surprise to some of you but hey, there it is in glorious black text.

I remember the first time someone revealed this cold, hard fact to me. It was 6-7yrs ago now, with my less than sympathetic Glaswegian doctor, when told that I wasn’t really feeling great, decided that a no nonsense ‘it is because you are overweight, in fact you’re clinically obese’ kind of answer, was just the tonic I needed. WhythankyouverymuchNOT, my evil, medically trained nemesis. I went into an immediate depression, outright denial and hand-permanently-stuck-in-a-bag-of-chips syndrome that pretty much remained for several years.

Obesity is all over the TV news, in newspapers, on the internet, with everyone weighing in [ahem] on the debate. The daily fail, just one of the many harbingers or doom, like to blame us for crippling the NHS, inviting in more damn immigrants and bringing down the Labour government [I jest about the last two]. For me ‘Obese’ has always made me think of those poor sods who have to suffer the humiliation of being removed from their beds by crane and although I knew I was overweight, I was certain I was far from having to get in touch with my local JCB hire company. So, last year, I finally came clean, admitted I was in denial and made a choice to fight the war against my fat arse and hopefully win. So far I have lost approx 2 stone [the festive relaxation mode and subsequent weight gain explains the ‘approx’] and will need to lose another 1.5 stone [21 pounds] to be considered out of the ‘Obese’ and into the ‘Overweight’ category. This leaves a further 1.5 stone to get myself into the ‘normal weight’ category. So, a full 3 stone [42 pounds] to magically make vanish. Joy ☺

The deadline is my brother’s wedding [bridesmaid dress, ack!!!], which is 15 weeks away. This means an approx loss of 2.8lbs per week, which surprisingly, is totally doable and the recommended weekly weight loss by WW themselves. I suppose getting my jaw wired shut would be cheating ya?

So, who is with me?

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Week One = Done!

So the ever dreaded first week of January is over and if I am honest, it was a tough one. I thought I had done quite well until about 3pm today when I just had to take my exhaustificated body for a nap! It is no wonder really as I managed all the workouts I had planned from Monday to Saturday and stuck to my WW points everyday, with a 2.5lbs weight loss at my weigh in today, result!!!

I wont lie, my body has ached most of the week, particularly after a tough body pump class on Tuesday [gotta love weighted squats] and getting up early on these cold and icy mornings has not been easy but it is done and I know that I am capable. These are the things that helped me this week:

• I planned every meal for the week on Sunday, bought all the ingredients necessary and made a big pot of veg soup to portion off and freeze. That meant I knew what I was eating each day and there was no temptation to snack on anything calorific.
• I packed my bag the night before with clothes for the next day and put out my gym clothes to get into as soon as I woke.
• I got up early each day and did my workout in the morning, getting it out of the way for the day. This really works for me but others may prefer an evening workout.
• I set out a good mix of cardio and weight/resistance training for the week, to keep it fresh

These are habits I hope to continue, with the hope that they will become automatic and help me on my path to becoming fitter and healthier.

How was your week?

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Fitness Facts

Great article over on the New Scientist website, worth a read.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

dance tastic

So instead of my run tomorrow, my Thursday morning workout is gonna be a dance/aerobic type workout, following the Tracy Anderson method, the workout I'll be doing [please ignore any references to Gwyneth Paltrow or Madonna] you can see here.

I'll just be repeating that routine for 45mins to an hour depending on how much energy I can muster and how long I can keep going. Have worked out my playlist for tomorrow and it is as follows:

Toxic - Britney Spears
Shot You Down - Audiobullys
Satisfaction/Party started - Benassi & Pink
Yeah Yeah - Bodyrockers
Dont Give Up - dance mix - Bryan Adams
I'm not alone - Calvin Harris
Better the Devil You know - Kylie
Get Together - Madonna
Sexyback - Justin Timberlake
Poker Face - Lady Ga Ga
One Two Step - Ciara
Star Guitar - Chemical Brothers
Superstylin - Groove Armada
Enjoy the Silence - remix - Depeche Mode

What would your dance playlist be?

an early morning conversation in my head

It went a little something like this:

Lazy: oh look, it's 5am, stay in bed, it's warm and cosy

McTofu: must get up and get to the gym

Lazy: the gym is evil, look how much it hurt you from your workout yesterday

McTofu: I am sore but another workout will help ease the pain and stop my muscles from seizing up

Lazy: BUT your gluteus maximus is non-cooperateous right now

McTofu: leave my butt outta this Lazy, I'm getting up and going to my spin class, so nyer!

I went to spin class, it was brutal but worth it.

Mctofu - 1 Lazy - 0

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Early mornings [yawn]

I have been reading the blog Zen Habits recently and decided to give his recommendation of getting up early a try. Now in the middle of a cold, dark British winter this is no mean feat but hey it's 05:45, I got up at 5am, it is minus 4 out there and I will be going to the gym! The benefits of getting up early for me are I get my exercise in early, which has always been the best route for me. I feel energised, ready for the day and know that it is done. Another benefit is I get my bed made [not helped by Chester, see below, stoopid cat]

I also get the opportunity to tidy my room or do a bit of blogging, reading or just getting myself in the right mental space for the day. It is way too early to tell of course [excuse the pun] but I think, being a morning person anyway, this may be the start of something good. Getting to bed early the night before is an absolute must but as I promised myself less crap telly and more reading this year, this too should be relatively easy.

Now to organise my music for my run and off to the gym I go.

Monday, 4 January 2010

training schedule for this week

This is the plan for working out this week. I already managed to get up early this morning and get my ass to the gym. It was bloody baltic outside so an opportunity to get on the treadmill and get warmed up was very welcome!

Mon 3k run on treadmill / 3 sets of weights for arms /3 sets of abs

Tue 3k run on treadmill /45min body pump class

Wed 45min spin class / 3 sets of weights for arms /3 sets of abs

Thu 3k run on treadmill / 3 sets of weights for arms /3 sets of abs

Fri 45min body pump class

Sat 5k run outdoors / pilates and/or yoga type stretch session

Sunday will be my rest day this week. I want to stick with a 6 days a week workout plan for now, I know some will say it is excessive but I know I can manage it and the more I do the better able I'll be to keep it going.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

If only I could use this excuse...

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

The Villians and I

By way of introducing myself and how I got here, I thought best to reveal the two main villains I’ve spent the best part of 15 years getting to know. Let me introduce you, they are ‘Greedy’ and “Lazy’.

Greedy came into my life around about the age of 6 when, not content with my own packet of sweets, I helped myself to my baby brother’s. My mum shouted that it was bad to be greedy. My defiant little self made a decision that when old enough to choose for myself, I would have as much as I damn well wanted, with nobody to tell me no! So Greedy got real comfy and settled in for the ride. Lazy made an appearance in my early 20’s where the student lifestyle swiftly unraveled years of being active and I got quite used to not doing any exercise other than lifting my hand to my mouth. It is no wonder the weight piled on and the lifestyle stuck. In the last 15 yrs I have managed to go from approx 120lbs to, at my heaviest, 210lbs.

At the start of 2009, the penny dropped. I had put on more weight over the festive season and I was sick of being fat, tired and unhappy with myself. I made a commitment to watching what I eat and seriously ramped up my exercise. I told myself that I would not give in to the lazy and that Greedy no longer had a place at my table.

Although I'm already a year into my journey, I want to record my successes and failures as I believe this will be a good motivator to see how far I have come and what I have yet to achieve. Do feel free to comment if you have any useful tips!