I ran most days, was doing hundreds of weighted squats and kettlebell swings and ate more cleanly than I have in a long time. I had great support and a clear plan. After a week the results on the scale were an impressive 10lbs lost. It’s amazing the results you can achieve in a short period with the right approach and the right people. However, I didn’t apply the right approach and felt the effects in other ways that I should have expected; that I should have prevented and that I should have not let happen. But hey, it isn’t the first time my unhealthy obsession has cost me and I’m sure I’m not alone.
Two many people commented that I looked awful. I looked fatigued and had lost my sparkle. Pilates was awful with cramps and tiredness affecting my routine. I was drained and struggling to continue. And not just with Pilates. My running was becoming sluggish and I was stalling. If I’m honest, I’ll admit I wasn’t eating enough. I practise Intermittent Fasting (and have done for past two years) and didn’t follow the prescribed nutritional plan that had been carefully laid out for me. As always, I was rushing to maximise results and ended up losing my focus. Intermittent Fasting is a flexible approach to weight loss, but it is also a scientific one. I had lost sight of that. Just like so many that have recently altered it’s principle’s to make it easier to follow, for some.
So, it came as no surprise when I stumbled and fell. Not for the first time, in the past year, but hopefully for the last time. I need to remember that eating clean and being regularly active is a full time gig. It’s not something I can do intermittently and not something that I should be doing to get fast results. It’s lunacy to do something repeatedly that doesn’t work and my “week on, week off” approach was’t working. Not that this was my intention. I just went so hard in week one that invariably in week two, I would struggle to sustain.
A wee weekend surprise trip to Amsterdam (thanks to my amazing girlfriend) has helped recharge my batteries ( I even managed a sub zero temperature run along the canals) but I have to find a way to deal with an issue that just won’t go away.
I have an eating problem. I eat when happy, I eat when sad. I ate when I am bored. Too often my eating is a response to an emotional trigger. Despite my success, despite my posts and my experiences, there are times when my subconscious takes over and despite hating myself and telling myself that I will resist, I am drawn towards the confectionery area of the shops, where I lose control and go on a supermarket sweep. Fasting helps me curtail these binges, but recently it hasn’t been preventing them. I have peaks and lows. When I’m focused, nothing stops me, but lately, I’ve been too easily distracted. Lately I’ve been pushing my self too hard and following that up with putting myself down, too much.
Once again a picture has hopefully kick started my efforts and will launch me in the same direction but with a new mindset and a greater appreciation of my limitations, but also of my strengths.
By knowing what my shortcomings are, I intend to make a plan. Like when I first started, I will be accountable and have set goals and weekly activities. I will also stop kidding myself on and stop projecting the image that nothing phases or bothers me. I am human and I make mistakes. A lot of mistakes, if I’m honest. Trying to run 5K to work, do a day’s work before running 5K home before eating the first meal in 24hrs doesn’t work and only leads me to binging later. So why keep doing it?
Instead I’ll now prepare my meals and fasting days around my training sessions, that I’ll take time to organise. I can still run in the morning, but will probably have a meal prior to the run home and something within 30 mins after. I’ll prioritise my work and focus on completing the features and projects on the horizon that have been putting my time management skills to the test and causing me stress that also usually leads to binge eating (a lethal combination). And I’ll make sure I factor in time for me; time for those I love and time for exercising the mind as well as the heart and muscles. Without a clear mind, a clean diet and exercise routine will invariably fail.
A wee week’s fall from Grace will only derail me, if I allow it. And I won’t allow that! Time to get my butt back on track, and back to a place where I can find , create and participate in amazing challenges. But, more of that later.
I’m probably (most definitely) not alone. It’s probably not unexpected and in the grand scheme of things it probably isn’t the end of the world, but I probably shouldn’t have so confidently proclaimed to the world, in Movember, that I would shed 20 lbs before the end of 2012.
I almost got there. Up until last week that was, up until I ditched my daily runs, my healthy eating and every ounce of self respect I had. Despite vowing not to let the festive period derail me, I didn’t even get that far.
You have probably guessed by my rant, that I slipped…big time. I’ve slipped before. I’ve slipped many times before. But I’ve always picked myself up, I’ve always managed to prevent any long lasting damage and I’ve always appreciated that it happens.
|I’m aiming for a six pack, but currently sporting more of a keg
But 12 lbs in two weeks is my greatest EVER gain (post transformation) and I was seriously in danger of undoing months of work. Chances are, given my normal slow carbohydrates intake, that a fair percentage of this is water but it still both deflates and inflates me. I’ve lost the same 10 lbs about 4 times in the past 6 months. For, you see, it’s time for a bit of honesty. To myself and to anyone who follows my posts.
I’m currently at the same weight as I was this time LAST year. Although I’m running further and a little faster (and easier) my body shape and weight hasn’t progressed. I’ve probably improved my endurance and I’ve possibly increased my leg muscles, but upper body strength and fitness have probably not improved much.
I could probably so easily say that 2012 has been a waste, that my fluctuating weight and lack of progress has derailed my goals, my ambition and my life.
But that’s probably a little unfair. 2012 has seen me complete my first 10km, my first triathlon, my first Half marathon, my first Tough Mudder and my first Spartan Beast. It’s been a year of firsts. But first and foremost, it’s also the year that I fell in love again. While my heart rate probably hasn’t improved much, my heart is beating strong. Yes, I’ve eaten too many refined sugars, but it’s been croissants in Paris, churros in Madrid, fudge in Edinburgh and scones in the Lake District with my lovely girlfriend, who loves me for who I am. My life is richer, happier and better. So, while I am disappointed in my weight, I am probably…no scratch that… I’m definitely the happiest I’ve ever been. You can’t always measure your life by the scale. Some aspects carry more weight (pardon, the pun) than others. But with a few Challenges ahead I need to address my free fall and get back on track. No point in waiting for January 1st.
So, here is the truth. My name is Stephen and I’m a sugar addict. Today is the first day, in a while, that I’ve went sugar free. It is going to be the first of many.
Ok…Ok.. The title of my Blog and the content up to now paints a certain image. I like to run, I really like running. It’s simple, it’s free (just don’t total the amount I’ve spent on kit and races) and it makes me feel good. And it also makes me think that I am good. On Sunday, I’ll head out for an 11 mile run and although I won’t break any speed records, I’ll feel pretty comfortable doing so.
But guess what? I am not a one trick pony. There are many sports and activities that I participate in (badly mostly), with yet another soon to join the ranks on Monday, one I’ve just started back at and another that I WILL be returning to soon ( I promise Jen & Elle).
Losing weight opened my mind to a whole new world of opportunity. First was walking, followed by Body Pump classes in the gym and then I discovered Pilates. Almost by accident.
I was looking to organise some activities for colleagues and came across a new business, ran by two girls who radiated a positive fun vibe. I’ve always championed small businesses so I met them for a coffee one day, told them my story, explained my plans (you’ll be hearing a LOT more about that in the New Year) and somehow they didn’t think I was mad…well, maybe they did. Mad seems to sit well with them.
Before I knew it, I was agreeing to sample one of their Pilates classes in an old,cold church. Thankfully though the welcome was warm and any preconceptions I might have had were blown away as first my abs, then my ass and then my belly were aching. It was tough, it was hard but it was fun.
I signed up for a beginners programme and started attending double sessions. Soon I was touching my toes, when a year earlier I couldn’t see them! I was doing side planks, the butt booster and downward dog push ups. I loved my Pilates…..and then I stopped. Can’t really remember why. But I can guess.
I am a glutton. I got greedy, I wanted to sample everything, so I was soon doing Thai Boxing, Bikram Yoga, Kettlebells, Boot Camps and even Zumba. I’ll never knock anything that gets more people active, but it wasn’t for me. And the more things I tried, the more I wanted to explore. I started playing badminton again, took part in a too strange triathlon (that’s a post on its own) and wasted a lot of money on daily deal offers that I never used as I simply didn’t have the time.
I forgot all the little things that made me laugh, that made me strong and made me feel alive. So I’m going back to a place that has always been there for me, to people who have always been there for me. It’s That Place, with Jen & Elle, at Forward Fitness (check out THEIR blog).
Elle is already my running coach, but it’s about time I brought Jen’s crazy mix of Pilates and torture back into my life. I’m smiling just thinking about it.
Henry Ford proclaimed that the man who knew his job well, never considered himself an expert. He was too busy seeking new ways to improve and get better to think about how efficient he was.
Now, I’m far from being an expert, but I do constantly seek new ways to improve myself. And I’m not naive or big headed (enough) to think that I can coast my way to running 26.2 miles comfortably in May’s Edinburgh Marathon, without careful preparation and regular running.
For the past few weeks I have, against the advice of my previous post, being putting in some regular miles. with even a cold earlier in the week not stopping me doing seven miles today with another five planned for tomorrow and my longest run yet, of fifteen miles, on Sunday. Before long I’ll be up in the twenties, with nothing stopping me…..
And then I remembered about the terrible toos – doing too much, too soon, too fast. It goes against my mantra of “Only Too Much Is Enough” but then I also remembered something else. I’ve only been running for just over a year and although I have the race bibs and medals, the snazzy running shoes and kit, the soon to arrive (Santa willing) Garmin 610 which will make me the happiest, most excited and appreciative bunny in the world and a strong passion for running, I know practically nothing about Marathon training.
Like the Sea Captain in the Simpsons, I look the part, I talk the part and I live the part but like him, when his boat sinks, I have to admit: “Y’ar, I don’t know what I’m doing!” . I do know that I should only really be increasing my weekly longest run by a maximum of 10% and that a fair percentage (or unfair, you may say) of those training for marathons never see the start line, due to injury. I don’t want that to happen to me. I have too much riding on this and it means too much to me to scupper. My marathon effort will not be sunk.
So I had an Epiphany of sorts and decided I needed an expert of sorts. I needed someone who has been there, got the bib and who could mentor and train me, both physically and mentally, for the biggest race in my life. Someone who I could trust with my development and trust not to shy away from telling me when I was going adrift (sorry for the sailing puns).
So being a Jog Scotland member (look out for my feature in the New Year edition of Stride), I went searching on their site for registered running coaches/groups and lo and behold I found some old friends, who had introduced me to the joy (and pain) of Pilate’s. Jen and Elle of Forward Fitness Glasgow
I got in touch, explained my voyage and my intended destination and quickly agreed that I would let Elle be the captain of my ship, that she would be the wind that guided my sails….right enough seafaring puns, sorry.
Her first pieces of advice were, to start lifting heavy things, to supplement with peptides and cut Sunday’s run to 10 miles (music to my ears….just hoping she isn’t a siren). Along with..get a bike. Now, I’m not one to question specialists and I was especially fearful of being made to do a plank (sailing and Pilate’s pun) but at this point I reminded her that I’m running the marathon. I’m a brave guy on the keyboard but having been on the end of a few Elle broadsides in the past (she’s a no-nonsense -but fair-trainer), I was waiting for her rebuke. Thankfully Elle simply advised that it would help strengthen my peg legs and then that I should invest in some ice grips for my running shoes. Guess we will be setting sail in all weathers.
But come what May, I’ll be ready and in the Edinburgh Marathon I will be flying the flag for all those feel their weight limits them and prohibits them from change.
If I can do this, so can anyone.
Yesterday someone on Twitter asked me if I was aware how bad for my health running could be? If I realised that running more than 25 miles a week was possibly counter-productive? And my answer was yes and yes! I had, like most runners, read the latest research that linked running excessively at excess speeds (Phew, I’m ok there) with possible wear and tear on the heart.
And, I had also made another change to my daily runs. I was no longer the lone wolf. Up until this month I always ran by myself. Partly because I liked the solitude but also because I still didn’t class myself as a “proper” runner. I was conscious of both my speed (slow to middling) and my style….or lack of it. But then, one day, a colleague asked if he could join me and in addition to thinking that he was a sound guy, it’s my dream to inspire others to get more active….so I said yes. I won’t lie. I quite enjoyed being his mentor and it was nice to have company. But soon the student became the master and after only a few runs, every run was ending with me at his heel. But I don’t mind. As he has got faster, so have I. We’ve both improved and next week we become a pack with another two colleagues joining us. In January, I hope to turn that two into 200,000 but that’s another post.
“You look amazing, you must be so proud….but surely enough is enough?” is a phrase I’ve heard on many an occasion. Usually from well intentioned colleagues, friends and family who have seen how much I’ve sacrificed, how much pain I’ve suffered and don’t want me going from fat to skinny.
But they don’t realise that I’ve not sacrificed anything I truly needed, that the pain I felt has been replaced by a greater joy and although they may see a huge transformation, I still have fat to lose and won’t be happy until I have reduced my body fat percentage further. I’ve came too far, to simply stop now. And rather than being skinny, I am going to be fit and strong.
They think that when I say no to a drink, or refrain from a dessert that I am depriving myself from enjoying life. Little do they realise that by changing my lifestyle from one which deprived me of good health, I am now enjoying life to the fullest and doing so many amazing things. Things that people openly laughed at when I suggested them last year. Even now, when I announce my goals for next year, those same people still give me incredulous looks.
For many my constant search for the next race, the next level and the next event is a sign that I’ve became obsessed and that I don’t know my limitations. And they are partly right, for I do not know my limitations. Every extra mile, every extra bib and every extra finisher’s medal spurs me on to test my limits and to discover just how many miles I can run.
And I’ve discovered it’s more than that. I NEED to set targets, they have to be stretching, they have to terrify me. Without an event in the upcoming calender I relax, old habits return and inevitably so do the pounds. Part of the reason behind this blog has been to reignite the fire that drives me, to make me remember the lifestyle changes I made and why I made them.
Tomorrow marks 100 days to my 40th Birthday and I vowed that it would be a special year. So I’ve just (and when I say just, I mean I just stopped typing to do it) signed up for my first Marathon. The Edinburgh Marathon in May 2013.
People will say I’m crazy, that I have to take it easy. That it is too far a race. To them I say, only too far is enough!
Walking was the activity that opened up a world of opportunity. I went from walking around my block to hiking for 18 miles in the Highlands of Scotland. It brought me serenity and opened my eyes to the beauty that surrounded me. For years I had walked with my eyes down, as not to catch anyone’s attention.
However, I longed for more. As a child I suffered from Perthes disease, which ate away my hip bone and left me dependent on firstly a wheelchair and then crutches. For years, I was reminded of all the things I couldn’t or shouldn’t do. Even when I was able to walk unaided, we were told that I would be troubled by my hip and that I shouldn’t participate in vigorous sports. I had one leg shorter (only slightly, mind you) than the other and when I ran after the ball or chased my friends, some couldn’t resist asking if I had a limp.
After a few times, I stopped running.
And when I first decided to lose weight I again attempted to run a little. Partly because it would aid my weight loss but also because I wanted to do something, that I’d told myself I didn’t want to do because I couldn’t do it. It wan’t the limp or even my weight burdened knees that stopped me this time, but instead the howls of laughter and shouts of “on you go, fattie” from passing vans and cars. It was humiliating and made me both angry at them and at myself.
After a few times, I stopped running.
The shouts may have dented my confidence but they only hardened my resolve and determination. Each morning I would ask myself how many miles will I walk today and I never wavered? As I got slimmer and more confident I decided to try running again. I downloaded a coach to 5k podcast, ventured out and set about running for a little and then walking for a bit.
After a few times, I stopped walking :o)