2012 Challenge

Sunday 27th May

Two weeks on however it’s been very positive! We’ve done a new set of measurements and I’m pleased, I’m making steady progress and the effects are making a real impact on my fitness levels. This is not a race, this is about building a sustainable way of life!

So the highlights from the last few months work are:

Hips -4cm

Waist – 5cm

Chest -5cm

Upper Arm -1cm

Upper Leg -1cm

Note the upper arm and upper leg measurements, this is where most of my loose skin sits, it’s toning to an extent but is not going to go down drastically quickly, after 16yrs of being obese, it will take time to build the muscle to fill the fat space!  However I know how much fitter they are and they look better!

Body fat is going in the right direction and is totally within normal limits, every body part is decreasing and the muscle is now beginning to be seen. My visceral fat levels continue to fall which is fantastic news!  I’m not going to talk about weight. Yes I am lighter but what is far more important to me are the smaller clothes I have had to buy, the levels of fitness I am now achieving thanks to reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass and how I look in the mirror. It is and never has been about the scales and I am still very happy with that!

I’m shaking the exercise up a bit, I’m now speed walking, the weather is fantastic and I walk a damm sight faster outside than on the treadmill, so 4 miles are covered in an hour and I’m loving the feeling of the sun and the fresh air!  What is very evident is that the leg strength work is paying off in building the muscles around my knees so now they are more protected and can take a bit more impact.  It’s taken 18months to get here though post surgery and I still won’t risk anything that may harm them, it’s not worth it, there are lots of other activities I can do that will be safer if I sense they’re not dealing well, but so far so good!

Heavy weights still feature, this is the one thing that is key to the toning that’s happening, and I REALLY enjoy it, it’s surprised me but in a very good way, when we started out I was struggling to squat lift 3 kg, now I’m doing an easy 6kg. I’m doing bench rows with 10kg and chest pressing 8kg. I feel fit and healthy, I’m enjoying my food and as the summer clothes come out I’m far less self-conscious about my limbs being on display than I’ve ever been before. So with a new pair of slim fit jeans which are already too big I’m looking forward to the warmer months!

And you haven’t seen it yet – check out Secret Eaters on Channel 4 – we all eat far too much, we really don’t know how much we actually eat!  The obesity crisis is down to portion size, it’s easily fixed, it’s not rocket science – we’re too greedy, we don’t need the sheer volume of food we consume and in the main we have very little idea of the amount we actually eat! Try it, be honest –  I’ll guarantee it will work!

Sunday 13th May

I know – its been 2 weeks again! Well last week was down to being sick, I gave into the common cold, the week before was just manic!  But hey I’m back!  I returned to the gym today and the new programme which I still love, I’m adding in other things and it feels good. I’m at about 90% fitness but given the cold hasn’t gone to my chest and my coughing is under control I’m not too worried. I do however feel quite de-toxed and cleansed after being ill, a natural therapies friend tells me that this is a good thing.

It was good though to be back today and sweating it out!

The measurements will hopefully be updated this week, still nervous but excited to see what happens next. What I have learnt though from talking to people is that it is never too late to change your life, it may take a major event to tell you it’s time or like me just happen. However if you’re bigger than you should be, not eating well, unfit and struggling, try not to wait too long?

I now know a lot of people in their 40s and older who are making the effort, it is worth it believe me, it’s still little things that make the difference but it is better this way, it really is!  The summer clothes have been making their way out of their box and yes some are going straight to the charity box, I always like that!

However the thing that made the most difference this week was to have one of my work colleagues tell a new member of the team that I was the one who motivates people to get to the gym and make an effort – not bad for the oldest member of the team!

Sunday 29th April

Apologies for not updating last week, I needed a have a think about why I was writing, its important to me and I do it for that reason.

The last two weeks have been very productive, the last programme has been great, I had started it wondering if I was up to it but ended it last week much more confident in my own ability. I will also admit to stepping  on the scales a bit more often than is good for me – so I fell into the trap of focusing on this, I was brought firmly down to earth by my trainer who reminded me that weight was not  my key objective and I should re-focus back onto what I really wanted – fitness, tone, reduced body fat and strength!

I now have a new very different programme, lots of intense squats and rotation work – and after two sessions I’m hurting in new places, this is a very good thing!  I was told that my programme was something given to semi professional athletes, that I am taking as a huge compliment, I’m less than four months into a new way of training and thanks to professional supervision and encouragement I’ve come on a huge way, I often forget that and it’s good to be reminded.

This week we were also advised that the free gym use I’ve had through work will come to an end in the summer, the replacement scheme will mean paying out some more money. Due to living some distance from work, I’ve already been paying out for my home gym and pool and now I’m looking for a new place closer to work too, the new scheme though may give me more opportunities and mean I can use the really good gym we use for my assessment sessions. I still can’t believe that less than 3 years on I use 3 gyms, 2 pools and have half a wardrobe dedicated to sports gear! It’s a shame to have to find the extra money however this is important enough to me to make it worth it.

I’m still really loving the big weights thing and the more I read about it, the more I know it’s the way forward for me. The only way to fill the loose skin is to build good muscle and I’m doing that now, it’s taken time but it feels good now, it’s also a good ego boost to be lifting significant weight successfully in the gym.

The next measurement session is now 2 weeks away, I’m nervous again, this time there will also be photographs as I’m seeing differences now and want to see if that is evident from some shots again. As you’ll see from today’s new post I’ve also been paying some attention to my skin, never forget it’s the biggest organ you have, it deserves some love!

Sunday 15th April

I had the week off work so I’ve been taking advantage to get to grips with my new gym programme.  This would have been easier if Wiltshire Council had not taken the decision last year to close their leisure centres on bank holidays – nice to see them supporting health and fitness!  I’ll probably write about that at some point, together with some comment on the news today that GPs are finally uniting in the battle against obesity.

I’m enjoying the big weights, they’ve provided me with the physical challenge I was looking for, it really felt like I was pushing my capabilities but at the end of the week, I feel I’ve cracked it!   My arms are certainly beginning to see progress, it is slow, it takes focus and commitment, there aren’t going to major changes overnight, but you know something that’s just fine, if I continue to enjoy it and there is progress then let’s keep going!  If it takes a year then it takes a year. Every body is different, every ‘story’ is unique, there are no hard and fast rules and from a lot of what I’m reading, it’s not an easy road however the slower it’s done, the more chance there is that you will be able to maintain the results, that is still key for me.

A week off always presents a challenge in that the routine is all over the place, work does give me that structure and in a weird way I’m looking forward to being back in the office and in the gym at dawn!  It helps on all fronts, when you’re busy you have less opportunity to snack and you focus on getting the exercise done when you have time.

So the exercise is going well – what about the head stuff?  You will have read in one of my posts that there were some negative goings-on this week, this was well and truly countered by the news that I’ve finished my therapy programme, what I’ve learnt is that it takes a whole lot more than just losing weight to produce happiness and mental health. It still makes me very sad that it happened in the first place and this will be the last time I mention it, I don’t play games like this, its damaging and I’ve spent too long working on getting me to a positive place.

As I’ve said before it’s always worth looking at the ‘head stuff’, it takes strength to ask for help and I’m very pleased that I did – I needed to know that I could have control over certain parts of my life, I do now, it’s made things a whole lot calmer and happier, the work doesn’t stop, I now have the tools and skills to be able to do it.

As a little incentive I had a massage this week, it does help to give my lymphatic system a bit of a boost, I’m working on the muscle/fat thing but my poor old skin does need some extra help.  It also just makes me feel confident about the way I look – if you can pamper yourself, if you’re putting in effort then you deserve it.  I’ve discussed a few other treatments with the spa and I may invest in something, however from talking to the very lovely therapist there is only so much that can be achieved, she had a good look at the problem areas especially at the top of my legs and there’s quite a lot of breakdown in the skin layers, I’m not deflated about it though, feeling fab about myself is a much better motivator.

And finally a thought, as I approach the 7 stone lost milestone, I’m focusing on what I’ve achieved over the last couple of years – as I carried over the 12kg weights this week, again and again I thought about what this used to do to my body, back then weight was slowing destroying my life, today it’s making it fitter and stronger!

Sunday 8th April

It’s been a bit of a week, some emotional stuff which sapped a lot of my energy however I know how much exercise can help when you have head stuff to deal with so I kept at it, it does help!

It was also time to review the programme with my trainer, I’ve really enjoyed the last few weeks but it really felt like time to move on.  I was a bit shocked by what came next, I take it as a compliment that he felt I was ready. It’s a real step up, its tough, I sweat it out but it feels very good!  I remember seeing other women he trains doing this programme at the beginning of the year and never believing I’d be able to do it.

I’m now on a different approach – we’re doing big weights but with less repetition, me being me has done some research into the science behind it, it stacks up. This article sums it up nicely.

One thing that did shock me was when I was handed 25kg of weight, this is a third of my current body weight, three years ago I was lugging this amount and almost the same again every day?   At the end of the step up programme I was doing with these weights my heart was pounding, I was sweating and really felt I was working hard, it dawned on me just how much pressure I had been putting on my body for all those years – if that isn’t motivating I don’t know what is?

I am though really loving the big weights, it’s showing just how much my strength has improved over the last 12 sort weeks. 4 weeks ago I felt I was struggling with my 8kg squat lifts, yet I did 12kg easily yesterday –  that felt very good and as I now need the ‘big’ weights I just got down to it in the blokes lifting area!  And I think I showed them! I certainly don’t feel that I don’t belong anymore.

I’m learning how important the correct technique is and I’m trying hard to make sure I’m doing it right! I am surprising myself at what I can now do. I’ve also inspired a couple of people this week to get out and try some exercise, that always makes me very proud!

One of the things I’ve also moved forwards with is getting new gym outfits. Now for a while I wouldn’t wear the proper lycra rich stuff as I felt it showed every lump and bump. Well it appears I don’t have as many of those now so I have some pretty nice new leggings, I also have a couple of proper sports bras, for a fairly big girl who is desperate to maintain her curves it’s very important that I provide them with the best possible support, it also gives me a pretty good, lean look!  I’ve also got a new swimsuit, the ones I’ve had in the past have had high backs as I was self-conscious about my back, that ‘fat’ is now way down and so the cut away sporty back suit looks great!  So pleased.

I also went to the pool today and really pushed myself with the fins, my legs are feeling stronger and I’m pretty sure I was faster, it was also nice to run into one of the older ladies who swims, she hadn’t seen me for about six weeks and complimented me on how good I was looking, so the effects of all this hard work is paying off, I’m feeling so good and it appears looking good too!

So a good week…..in memory of my very loved granny who we said goodbye to on Wednesday, she was very proud of me too.

Sunday 1st April

A new month – this year feels as if it’s flying by!  I started the week with a new routine, getting up at the crack of dawn and heading to the gym before work.  The first day was interesting, really enjoyed the workout but was amazingly hungry all day, it was obvious I needed to tweak my daily food plan. It was all easily solved by some oats and yogurt!

And seeing the sunrise every morning is quite special!

It has though been a great week, as ever my body has surprised me, all the way through this shrinkage, I’ve spent months in the past not losing any weight but getting smaller only to find one day the weight itself has shifted!  And this week the same has happened, according to the scales I am now lighter than I have ever been (well since I was 23 anyway!), we’re now 4 weeks away from the 16 week mark and I am now very intrigued to see what all the figures will say?

My body feels good, it feels stronger, especially my upper arms and shoulders. The skin isn’t popping back though and as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the stretch marks are a little more obvious now, I’m just hoping that it’s all part of it having to look a bit worse before it gets better. I’m also focusing on it being far more important that I feel great, am working as hard as I can, enjoying it and look bloody fabulous with my clothes on!  If someone loves me enough and knows my story then the naked me and it’s peculiarities won’t matter!  I love it after all, but then I knew the ‘other’ naked me, the one that I found very hard to look at and to have a relationship with.

The early morning workouts are interesting too – I have far more energy all day than when I was hitting the gym after work, as long as I eat regularly during the day I feel less hungry so it looks like my blood sugar levels are more constant now.  It if course leaves my evenings free for other things which now Spring is here is very important for me.

My gym is lovely at this time of day too, it appears that this is the time the older ladies do their workouts!  They’re a lovely group, they take it seriously, are very at ease with their bodies and they know that keeping active is very important for their energy levels, joints and general well-being.  They give me a lot of hope for my later years and always reminds me that it’s never too late to get active!

On the food front, it’s a been a week of realising that slow release carbs (oats) are brilliant for breakfast, that I still love tuna, rice and peas for lunch and that because for most of the time I eat very sensibly, a Chocolate Tasting and Eating day was oh so much fun!!! Getting a realistic balance is very important to me, it always has been, in order for it to work, it has to fit in with my life to be sustainable, I really now feel I’m achieving that as well as enjoying it, that will always be my biggest motivation.

As as for the shrinkage this week, thanks to some unseasonably warm weather I had to delve into the summer clothes box, I own two pairs of linen trousers – in 2 sizes. As it was very early I grabbed one pair, put them into my gym bag, put them on later and assumed they were the bigger pair as they were hanging off me, I was VERY pleasantly surprised to find later they were the smaller pair!  The same thing happened with a little white cardigan, last year the upper arms were snug, now they are far from that – progress is being made!

I have always used exercise as ‘me time’, it’s an opportunity to have time to think and I know the power of exercise to help manage the head stuff. The coming week will be emotionally trying, my granny passed away recently and this week brings her funeral and some other family issues that need to be dealt with, even though my time will be limited I know it’s going to be vital to hit the gym or the pool to give myself some thinking time.

Sunday 25th March

The first day of longer, lighter nights has finally arrived!  The sun has also shone all weekend which has resulted in a BIG burst of energy for me!

I was in the gym first thing yesterday morning, it was an interesting session, someone had ‘tidied’ up and moved all the benches into what we all regard as being the ‘bloke area’, you know the one, with the big weights.  So the options were to find someone to give me a hand in moving one back to the ‘girl area’ or just getting on with it and joining the big boys!  And yes I did feel a bit awkward but I held my own and did my routine, probably better because I was conscious that I was surrounded by the blokes!

I’m really enjoying the weights work, I am really feeling it working. What I need to remind myself is that I was very overweight for about 16 years, putting right the damage I did to my body isn’t going to happen overnight, it really doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as I’m enjoying it and it feels good!

But I’m quite pleased with how far I’ve come with feeling comfortable with the weights!

I’ve eaten out twice this week, both places served a degree of healthy foods and I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s always been very important to me that there’s never a stage when I feel uncomfortable eating out because I’m worrying about calories, I do want to be informed about how things are cooked and to also not be served ridiculously sized portions however I do love food!

The plan for the coming week is to try to use the longer days to get to the gym close to work first thing in the morning, leaving my evenings free – let’s see how that works out!

So a week of feeling comfortable and at ease eating out and in the gym!!

Sunday 18th March

A much better week, full of energy and feeling great!

Paul and I reviewed the gym programme, at first it looked a bit of a breeze, no HIT, no Abs!  HOWEVER, it does involve a lot of upper body free weights work, with a twist, yes I twist the weights and it really does work the muscles, there was pain.  The step ups are still here with the addition of lunges, so this is really working the legs.  So no its no breeze and I’m pleased with it. And by Friday I was positively running up the four flights of stairs at work.

My sleep is though a bit of an issue at the moment so taking some positive action on dealing with it, I’ll keep you updated to see what happens.  Sleep is very important though to being able to maximise the effect of exercise so I’m taking the problem seriously.

Did though have a great afternoon yesterday, it started with meeting a friend for lunch, now as you know I portion control so often eating out becomes very annoying as I feel I’m paying for food that is ultimately going in the bin.  However the place we went to served very sensible portions and apart from a bit of my burger bread (now find I just can’t eat a lot of the stuff) and a few of the very chunky chips (always better than thin chips anyway) I had just enough and didn’t feel too wasteful.

On the way home we popped our heads into my favourite clothes shop, they always look after me and the last time encouraged me to try on things I wouldn’t even normally look at.

I found a lovely top, picked up the large – which was then manhandled off me and I was sent to the fitting room with a medium!  While I was in there, a dress which I had 100% dismissed earlier was thrust into my hands by the lovely owner in a size 14, I instantly pushed it back saying that the fixed cotton was never going to fit me (give me a bit of stretch please!), she refused to take it back and told me to humour them by at least trying it on.  So over the head it went, I then had to eat my words as it fitted beautifully and it appears that the 2cm shrinkage across my chest has made quite a difference. I also noticed that there are less bulges across my back when I wearing my sports bra, I’m quite liking how that looks now!

As I stood in the shop in it, still feeling a bit stunned several people commented on how nice it looked……..and the owner said the key thing – that I still think I’m bigger than I actually am. She’s right, I’m still getting used to it, however nice it is, it does still take some ‘head stuff’ to be able to process what I now look like.

So I went home with a top and a dress, pleased and yes I will admit that I am still shrinking, next stop looks like being the bra fitter again, quite conscious that I really want to maintain as much of those ‘curves’ as I can, I love them!

Sunday 11th March

So this week was a bit up and down, I was under the weather, some kind of virus that sucked out all my energy and made me ache like crazy, I don’t like feeling ill now, when I was bigger I seemed to go from one bug to another, now I hope my healthier lifestyle has  boosted my immune system!  However now I just get frustrated at not being able to exercise and feeling rubbish!

The positive of course was my re-measurement and really feeling motivated that it’s all coming together, it has made me focus on what is important and what my main objective is.  I want to be fit and healthy for my age, I’m not looking to achieve a body I have never had.  I talk to women all the time who have spent 20 years dieting so they can get a ‘bikini body’ – in fact they’ve never had one, so they of course get de-motivated when it doesn’t happen and end up on a yo-yo dieting cycle.  I took one of them swimsuit shopping, she looked great in a one piece and realised that if she re-focused her energies on not trying to achieve an unrealistic goal she stood more of a chance of being able to keep her ‘swimsuit’ body which is actually pretty fit and healthy.

I actually like my curves, I yearned for them when I was younger, I am very attached to my cleavage!   All in all I’m happy, motivated and far healthier than many of my peers.  I am learning that everyone’s body is different, it responds in various ways to food and exercise, this article is also especially interesting and goes some way to explaining why for many it is so tricky to keep off the weight they’ve lost.

Acceptance that we are all so different is very important and that its something I talk with my trainer a lot about. He could set a programme that on paper ticks all the boxes  however if it were for example to include the cross trainer, the chances are that I wouldn’t stick to it, I hate the thing with a passion. However I love to swim and am  finding that I really like lifting weights. It’s a real challenge and I love one of those, I never thought I was a competitive person however I am very competitive with myself!

I’d been struggling with the squat lifts, to be honest since the issues with my knees, squats scare me so I tend to shy away from them, I’d even wimped out a bit and was using the gym ball, however yesterday I decided to take them on – they weren’t going to beat me, it was all head stuff (there’s no reason why I can’t do them), so facing the mirror I went for it and completed the sequence with ease. Now there were two reasons for this. One I was checking myself in the mirror, this has always been a big deal for me, after all I spent 15 years not seeing myself if I could help it, I was therefore smiling thinking I love what I see and what I am achieving. Secondly shamelessly I was alongside one of the blokes who looks great, he’s my age and works hard, I wasn’t going to look like a wimp in front of him!  This 40 something girl won’t be showed up by a bloke!

On the swimming front there was also a milestone reached today. I love swimming, I have my ‘own’ technique however it works for me.  Today I was there with my fins, so 4 lengths breaststroke, 6 with the kickboard and the fins.  It became pretty clear though that with  my fins I was way too fast for the medium lane. Now the fast lane is a scary place, and today especially as one of the county swimmers was in, she’s fast and strong  but very encouraging and said she didn’t mind if I joined her and another crawl swimmer. I held my own, well actually more than held my own, I was happy being chased down by them, I was pushing it, really pushing it, it was probably the best workout in the pool I’ve had since before my surgery and it felt very good, my heart was pounding, and I realised I was still sweating as I tried to get dry!

So I ended what had felt like a slow week on a real high with two hard, positive workouts!  Very different and I loved them both!  I review the gym programme tomorrow and I am really looking forward to it!

Sunday 4th March

Spring feels like its a coming now…..brighter mornings and it’s even light when I leave work now!  All of this results in me feeling a lot more energetic!  There is progress and I am both excited and nervous about being re-measured this week.

I’m loving the arms weights routine now and there do seem to be muscles taking up the space where more squishy stuff used to be. I think there are less bumpy bits on my legs too, things are feeling more solid. Well apart from my tummy, something tells me this might be the final thing to go!  But that’s fine, I always knew it wouldn’t be easy and would take time. It has only been 7 weeks and I think we all know by now that the best way to make a sustainable difference is to do things nice and slowly. It’s by no means a race, yes I have a couple of self-imposed deadlines but these are just for motivation, it’s also important for me to know that this is now a way of life and one I love and appreciate.

I went to the pool today, with my fins, I met up with a friend who’s a crawl swimmer and under normal circumstances much faster than me, however once I was nicely warmed up, I joined her in the fast lane and asked her to chase me down. What fun and I flew – more than holding my own and it felt very good to be totally out of breath and very red!

I felt inspired and strong today, I never underestimate how important it is to not only work on your body but also on your head. I’ve been having some professional help with that and it is now really paying dividends and making me feel calmer than I’ve done in a very long time.

I’ve had encouragement from some great people too and also been motivated by the story of a guy who has had every reason to have given up a long time ago yet has pushed past every obstacle and achieved some unbelievable things, if he can do it then for gods sake anyone can. See my other post tonight on both him and John Bishop’s Week of Hell – both have a similar message for me and for everyone. 

Sunday 26th February

It’s been a positive week, got 3 weight sessions done in the gym and I am starting to see progress.  Juggling with other things now and making sure as well that I have rest days. I have my fingers crossed it is having the desired effect now.

The food thing is settling down too and it’s becoming second nature to think carefully about what I eat and how I plan my days.

I had my first potato in 6 weeks last night and it was extremely nice but I don’t crave them anymore, they taste so much better when you don’t have them all the time!

My love affair with spinach continues, even managed to make a savoury pancake on Shrove Tuesday with the stuff – delicious!

Sunday 19th February

Firstly I never did get round to re-writing the previous entry – the one that was eaten by my iphone, however on reflection it was a tad negative and I am feeling quite differently now so it doesn’t seem important. For me this experience has to be a positive one so I’m moving on.

So we’re six weeks into the Challenge, its having its ups and downs but in the main it’s proving to be exciting and a whole new experience, both physically and mentally.

On the food front, after a few days of being protein shake free it became obvious it was these that had caused all the digestion problems, without them my energy re-emerged and I felt a lot better.  So I’ve been concentrating on getting as much protein from food as I could while I searched for a possible replacement for the whey products.

Thanks to some advice I have ordered some soya protein, we’ll see how it works out, the good news is that my carbs are still way down and I do feel better for that.

It is tricky to work out what my home-made meals consist of calorie wise, but I don’t want to end up going down the route of buying pre-prepared food because it makes it easier. If you check out the labels of ready meals there is a whole host of ingredients that I most certainly don’t add to meals I make myself.  If it isn’t in my cupboard then I don’t want to eat it – here I’m talking about added sugar, emulsifiers, colourings, bulk agents etc etc…..I’m always amazed at how much sugar is added?

I’ve discovered another vegetable that I just can’t get enough of, this week it’s been spinach, it’s incredibly good for you and I love the stuff, it’s deal easy to prepare, I just throw it in the steamer, 5 mins later, add some salt and some butter for a delicious side for meat or fish!

On the exercise front I’ve been going through the new programme and really enjoying it, I think I can already see an improvement in my arms. I have had to adapt a couple of the exercises as my left knee is a little sore and I was struggling with the squat thrusts, so I’m doing them with a gym ball, I’m still working my arms with the weights, but I am able to control the squat and my knees far better.

It was funny this week though, for most of my programme I need the weights bench, I can feel the weight lifting guys watching me intently, mainly because they want the bench but I am holding my own and I’m proud and determined!

I am sweating like a pig though, and I do look pretty rough by the end!   Another high point has been to change my cardio programme, I have now moved into an interval programme with resistence levels between 7 and 10. I’ve never been up to 10 before so after 12k I was pretty chuffed with myself, I really do like the feeling of having pushed through another level and achieving something new.  Very motivational!

So after a week of questioning what I was doing, I now have direction and focus, I am feeling good, I think my body is starting to change, we’re a couple of weeks from taking another set of measurements now and I am intrigued, I do though know that the best results come from taking it slowly and surely so I’m not expecting big numbers but I do want to see progress.

The biggest thing I have learnt though is that being positive is the best route and that in order to succeed I need to find my own way, everyone is very different in how they approach this type of thing and I am now settling into what feels right for me.

I’ve ordered new exercise trousers this week, I’ve been optimistic about the sizing and they are the type of fabric I’ve avoided in the past as it tends to show every lump and bump, I think (and hope) that’s improving so new kit seems like a good idea!

And I’ve heard that my nephew is on a mission to lose weight and get fit, he’s one stone down and seems to be enjoying the exercise, I am very proud of him!  Always better to do it in your 20s and try to build a healthy lifestyle that can last long-term than have to start from scratch in your 30s or 40s!

Sunday 5th February

Well, January is done, I always like to think that once February arrives, Spring is only just around the corner! The evenings are getting longer and I’m very pleased that I ended up not needing to use my SAD light at all during January – I’m hoping the exercise may have had something to do with that.

The last week has been a bit of a challenge, I was away for work for a couple of days so the food plan went out of the window really, this gets frustrating as I lose a bit of the control I feel comfortable with. Luckily it turns out that Marks and Spencer now do a high protein range of lunches so that helped a little. I do though have to deal with the fact that it’s not going to be possible all of the time to keep to the food plan, I just need to make sure that I revert to the smaller portions plan when that happens. When I am at home I’m not finding the high protein a problem, and no potatoes have passed my lips for a month now, although I did dream of buttery mash the other night! I am missing the pasta though and this is more difficult to manage, but as it now sits in the ‘treat’ camp, when I do have it, I do enjoy it more.

On the exercise front, I was in the pool today with the fins, it does work your legs harder than using the kick board alone, so I’m pleased with that and tomorrow will probably be interesting on the discomfort front! It does feel good to mix it up a bit though. Swimming is still my first love, it started my affair with exercise and is still the thing that gives me a lot of ‘head space’; when I’m in the gym I’m usually plugged into my music, it’s a totally different feel, swimming is still the think I do with just my own thoughts for company!

The rest of the plan continues and we’ll review the weights work next week. I think I might also have found a local drop in pilates class on a Saturday morning, I am finding that the extra exercise is making me a bit stiff so I’m keen to get back into it if I can, amazingly I feel as though I’m running out of time to be able to fit in all the exercise now! I am chuffed to read messages of support though, this is a real challenge for me, although I did do the training for the big swim two years ago this does feel very different so encouragement is gratefully received!

And as a tip for anyone who needs to move more, get a job in a building with lots of stairs, I’m really feeling my legs working every day!

Sunday 29th January

Funny old week, reducing the carbs has been harder than I thought, I would seriously have killed for a packet of Sweet Chilli Sensations on Wednesday, luckily I have great friends who talked me down before any serious damage was done! I always believed I would crave sugar and sweet things but no, I dream of crisps and mashed potatoes! Anyway I now keep a supply of bananas and some dark chocolate at work to deal with the cravings. I need to be able to deal with my body telling me it needs sugar, now the carbs are reduced it’s slightly out of kilter at the moment and I need to ensure I don’t let my blood sugar drop too low into the afternoon.

I’m getting used to the protein shakes which is good and sorting out the good snacks to keep me going, lunches are great though and really enjoying them! Tonight’s roast lamb with carrots and broccoli was delicious and I didn’t miss the potatoes.

The exercise is going well, Paul’s upped some of the weights. I’ve realised that doing the 12k on the bike is too much after work, I’m just too tired; it’s far easier and more productive in the mornings so I’m arranging my week around that. I’m getting great feedback from people who are reading the blog too and that means a lot, I need all the encouragement and good wishes I can get! If you feel inclined to start your own challenge I’d love to hear about it.

I did though have a lovely surprise when I bought some new boots yesterday. Four years ago I finally found a shop who sold knee length boots with large calf sizes, I was over the moon at the time, it meant being able to wear skirts in the winter and I wore them until they fell apart! Last year I bought a new pair which were 5 cms smaller than those original ones. Yesterday I went down another 2 cms! It’s that kind of thing that keeps me motivated! Duo boots are amazing by the way, fit perfectly and last like no other boots I’ve ever had and if you can get them in the sale even better!!

It’s getting busy at work so there is a bit of juggling to fit everything in but it will be worth it in the end I’m sure. The first few weeks are always interesting as you can’t see instant results, so you have to believe in yourself and what the experts are telling you to be able to keep going! I’m lucky to have fit friends too who send me interesting information and spur me on when I’m struggling a bit! It’s easy to think you might be able to do it on your own but having people who understand how important it is to you and can help is always goign to make it easier and a bit more fun too!

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Sunday 22nd January 2012

A couple of things to update you on this week.

Firstly the exercise – I met with Paul, the personal trainer to review what I needed to be doing based on my objectives, well it’s now all split into 3 areas.

Cardio – I’m doing the majority of this on the bike, I’d recently upped the distance to 10k, well we’re now at 12k! I did the first session on Wednesday, I was stiff and tired after a couple of busy work days and at 4k I honestly thought I’d have to stop at 5k and just give into the fatigue. However I’m no quitter and something kicked in to make me push on, it was almost that the negative feelings of not being able to do it were spurring me on to achieve the new goal. And so I did it and it didn’t end up feeling that bad by the end, I did it again before breakfast yesterday. To be done at least twice a week.

Flexibility, Cardio and Toning – in the pool with the flippers and the kickboard. Once or twice a week if possible.

Weights – this was all new, new exercises and pieces of kit and a lot more reps than I’ve had in the past. It started with a lot of step-ups and finished with some Abs exercises that almost made me cry! To be done 2-3 times a week!

Then there’s the food, good news is that I have reduced the carbs significantly and the protein has increased. There have been some interesting moments, I was away staying in a hotel so rather than cereal or fruit for breakfast, I went for the bacon and mushrooms for breakfast. And yesterday I had lunch with the girls, I had a nice big grilled gammon steak and didn’t eat all the chips. Lunches and snacks have got easier with the arrival of the protein shakes and I have been getting creative with lunches:

  • brown rice with peas, tuna, cherry tomatoes and a slug of extra virgin italian olive oil and some light soy sauce
  • baby salad leaves with beetroot, avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumber – works well with tuna or with cooked chicken/turkey

I’ve found I love beetroot!

I am feeling better because of the food and the exercise, of course there was a day when I couldn’t lift my arms (!) and I have had to get used to the protein shakes (for me they seem very sweet and I only appear to be craving savoury rather sweet carbs!) I’m not being too religious about it all though, I did have pasta one night but in the main I am trying to up the protein and reduce the carbs!

So let’s carry on and see what happens, my digestion feels different and I am less sluggish, so maybe the diet thing is working! I am finding it interesting, I liked the Channel 4 Programme ‘The Food Hospital’ which showed the effect eating differently can have on our health. It is very true that it can respond to what you put into it, it makes sense really and I’m really looking forward to seeing the evidence?

And I’m not weighing yet, it’s pretty pointless while the aim is to reduce body fat/increase muscle so I’m leaving well alone, however my jeans felt very loose when I put them on earlier.

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Sunday 15th January 2012

Why I’m going to be eating like a caveman (well cavewoman anyway!)

So you will hve seen from yesterday’s main post that the challenge is now well underway. And for me one of the important things is the change to my diet. Up until yesterday I was still following my own approach, anything (apart from real rubbish and bread) but in smaller portions.

However my objectives are now different, it’s not about losing weight per se, it’s about reducing my body fat and building muscle so a change to what I eat is essential. You have to look at it this way, you have to fuel correctly, there is no point having a high performing car and then putting in cheap oil and forgetting about the water!

I’m not losing sight of my principles, I’m not going to get obsessed, I’m not going to be measuring anything, I will follow certain rules and guidelines and keep things flexible so they work with my life. We are certainly not counting calories either!

There is science behind everything so here’s why protein is so important to building muscle (and reducing body fat). The following explains what is going on. For me knowledge really is power, if you understand what happens it makes it so much easier to make it reality.

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HOW IMPORTANT IS PROTEIN TO BUILD MUSCLE

Almost everybody knows or should know that our muscles are made up of protein. Protein is an important element of every cell in our body. Like water, protein makes up a large part of our body. Our hair and nails are made of mostly protein. Our body uses protein to build and repair tissues to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block not only for our muscles but bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. With that said, if you don’t get enough protein in your diet you cannot build muscles, it’s that cut and dry. You have to provide the body the fuel it needs to build muscle. The body uses protein for so many other more important life assisting functions in the body….. the last thing it wants to do is build muscle with it. So, you better be getting enough protein to assist with other bodily functions so your body can then put itself in a position to add muscle later on after your hard work in the gym. On the other hand, eating more protein without stimulating the muscles through exercise will not make your muscles bigger either. You must put in the hard work in the gym. I recommend .75 to 1 gram of quality protein per pound of body weight. For example, I weigh 200 lbs so to give my body the fuel it needs to build muscle I should get about 150-200 grams of protein a day. You don’t need any more than that…… for several months I consumed more than that and I did not see any added muscle gains just gains in my body fat percentage!!!

Protein is categorized as a “macronutrient” just like fats and carbohydrates. But unlike fats and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, so there is no storage to go to when protein is needed. What is not needed the body will excrete as waste. Again, protein does not build up in the body so you should eat protein at regular intervals throughout the day to build muscle effectively. I suggest eating 6 small meals a day instead of the traditional big three and consume a good quality source of protein with each of them. Typically, proteins are not used by the body as a primary energy source. The body’s primary energy source is carbs when they are available. But when you do not get enough carbohydrates in your body it has no choice but to use your valuable muscle-building protein for energy which leaves your muscles high in dry unless you are getting 600 grams of protein a day!! So with that said be sure you are getting at least 1.5 grams of carbs a day for every pound you weigh. It is believed the best protein sources are derived from animal sources such as meat, fish, eggs, and milk.

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In reality this means reducing carbs, for me this is both easy and tricky, I’ve already cut almost all bread out of my diet, however I do like cereal and potatoes and oh the pasta! So these are now in the ‘treat’ category too, I can have them but in moderation. Eliminating wouldn’t work for me so this is the most sensible approach.

Increasing protein – this is where the caveman thing comes in, I need more meat and fish, luckily I like both, eggs are also good, as is milk and rice. Looking at some sample weekly plans there is a lot that can be done quite easily. I cook from scratch a lot so I just need to adapt my meals. Tinned fish is good too, it’s also great brain food!

The trickiest challenge is breakfast and snacks. I’ll be exercising straight from work on week days so I need a protein boost before I head off to the gym or the pool? And ideally I should be having more protein to start the day. I wasn’t sure in my busy, often unpredictable day so how I would cope with that. And if I was away for a couple of days for work how would I ensure my protein levels were still good.

The answer is the protein shake – it gives a big hit of handy easy to access protein. I struggled a bit with using these and was trying to work out why? I think it’s because I thought they were for extreme sportspeople and I wasn’t one of them? Actually what I learnt yesterday is that I am perfectly entitled to be in that group, I am getting fit, I spend a lot of time doing sporty things in my own way and most importantly I am motivated and inspired to do it. So I’m over that hurdle and the protein shake tub is on its way.

I also need to make sure I’m keeping my body loaded with the right vitamins and minerals, so there will be some supplements, interestingly one of my skinfold measurements indicated that I’m zinc deficient so I am adding this in. I’m not a big fan of supplements, so I’m keeping a focus on including those things I know have high levels of what I need. Interesting fact of the day is that broccoli has a far higher vitamin C content than oranges.

So lunch today will be eggs, dinner will be a casserole using a lot more beef than I would usefully put in with veg and beans.

As a cook I’m looking forward to working out how to eat well using these guidelines. And if it delivers the results I’m looking for then that’s great.

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Sunday 8th January 2012

So while I try to help you all with your weight and fitness challenge, I’m undertaking one of my own. There’s more information on this post about my reasons and objectives.

Potential and Focus

With a week of preparation I am now underway. The challenge is two-fold, to work on my legs, bottom and hips and my upper arms using a combination of approaches – mainly because I’m interested to see if it can be done and also because I now love the feeling of being ft, healthy and loving my new body.

So I’m planning a weekly update on a Sunday evening on how things are going, it won’t be measured by weight but rather by measurement and clothes – my usual methods!

So the starting points are – these may sound big especially with my upper arms but a lot of this is loose skin, in an attempt to be totally upfront.

So after a while sorting out my tripod and the self-timers on my cameras, here’s where we are today, I am very self-critical now, I just wish I had photos of what I looked like two and half years ago! The process to even being at this point is massive, it’s one thing that is a bit tricky now, if you just see my body now, you would just see the imperfections whilst I and those who have been around during the process see the big changes that have already happened. I am very, very proud of where I’ve got to so far! It’s also a bit of big deal to be able to put the photos here but I want you to be able to see the loose skin and tone problems at this point (without the aid of support underwear!) So let’s see where we are in 16 weeks time.

Don’t get me wrong though, my body is beautiful, it is to a point what a woman in her 40s will look like, I have though punished it over the years but I do love it, it is serving me very well at the moment! At least it’s fit and strong!

The starting measurements are:

Left Upper Arm: 35cm

Right Upper Arm: 37cm

Left Thigh: 64cm

Right Thigh: 64cm

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20 Responses to “2012 Challenge”

  1. Michele Watkins January 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    I am with you all the way!

    • trudykelly January 9, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

      thank you! I love my fit friends!!!

  2. La Sinverguenza Mas Descarada February 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Like your post. Keep it going !!!

  3. Michele Watkins February 6, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Thought this might interest you! http://blog.massivehealth.com/infographics/Carbs_are_killing_you/

  4. lorna February 26, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Glad you are seeing results, once you start building some serious muscle the weight loss will kick in.

    • trudykelly February 26, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      Thanks Lorna – hope you’ve had a great holiday? Fingers crossed that I’m making progress!

  5. lorna February 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    Hi, yes I did thanks. Just finished catching up with my ladies.
    Keep working those large muscles-arms, glutes and legs. When you do cardio do you use your arms too?

    • trudykelly February 29, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

      I swim and use the bike in the gym for cardio. Can’t stand the cross trainer, I’m not into doing things I really don’t enjoy, I have to be able to sustain the exercise and be able to fit it into my schedule (loving the weights work though!). Due to having had my cruciate replaced I’ve been advised by my surgeon not to do too much impact activity to prolong the viability of the graft. I’ll speed walk but running isn’t an option for me.

  6. lorna February 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Not advisable to do impact and it it very important to enjoy what you do.
    I was just thinking as you are building such great muscles in your arms, you could use them in cardio to get your heart rate up and burn some fat.
    I’m glad you are thinking around the issue, running isn’t always an option.

  7. lorna April 2, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Fabulous and so great to see you being positive. It is in my experience personally and professionally impossible to lose the amount of body fat which you have and not lose weight, sometimes it just takes a while to happen. You can after all as a woman only gain a very small amount in weight over a month in muscle mass, unless you are a professional weight lifter and consuming large amounts of protein.
    The skin will improve, it just takes a while and if not you can cheat and have a few treatments done.
    I imagine you are down to a fabulous weight now and look forward to seeing your new photos.
    Well done Trudy Kelly.

    • trudykelly April 2, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Thanks Lorna. I have a lot of loose skin, to go from over 260lbs down to where I am now was always going to present challenges, massage helps a bit, I know it will be a long, long job or it will be something I’ll just have to live with, as I’ve mentioned my skin has never been great and I honestly never expected it to spring back that well, I’d have loved to be one of those people where it does but everyone is different. I wouldn’t ever resort to surgery though, it’s not vital enough to take that degree of risk. My key objective (mentally as well as physically) is to never get to a point where I am more self conscious about my body than I was when I was bigger, for me it’s all about body confidence, health and fitness. My body fat levels are far from dangerous now which was always the vital thing and I have none of the other weight related problems I have had in the past. My life is pretty good now and I’m into keeping fit and healthy for the long haul.

  8. lorna April 2, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    When I say treatment I don’t mean surgery, there are salon treatments now that are excellent in tightening skin. I have a client who has had it done and it has improved her loose skin to an amazing degree and it seems to be permanent as well, at least a year later it is the same as when she had it done.

    • trudykelly April 2, 2012 at 11:20 am #

      Ah – I’ve tried some, without much success I’m afraid, my skin isn’t springy enough! Massage does help but not on a longer term basis, the more fat I’m losing the worse it gets! As I say it’s fine, I’m not expecting miracles after 16 years of being severly stretched! The majority of it is covered most of the time anyway, I’m not aiming for a bikini body – never had one of those! Let me know what your client tried though, all suggestions very welcome!

  9. lorna April 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Fantastic results, you have gone from 200lbs to approx 165lbs in a relatively short time. That is 2.5 stone lost. Well done, you are now bordering on the overweight line, rather than obese…that is amazing…
    Sorry to hear about your Granny, she would be very proud!

    • trudykelly April 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      Thanks for your kind wishes. Actually I’ve lost almost 7stones from August 2009 to today, not sure where your reference to 200lbs came from? I’ve lost approx 9lbs in the last 3 months. However the ‘weight’ isn’t important or where it sits on the BMI scale, my GP, surgeon or personal trainers won’t use it alone, they always use it in conjunction with other factors such as my fitness and overall health which is now very good, I find refering to myself as ‘BMI overweight’ now to be a very negative approach for me – I’d much rather focus on my fitness levels and the fact I’m wearing size 12 clothes, the measurements as a whole more than stack up now. This is far more motivating for me together with how far I’ve come in terms of exercise and what I can now do which is far more than most ‘overweight’people I know (I’ve only been doing this for 2 years out of my whole 44) and how I look – this is what keeps me going – not what the BMI scale says? I’m very happy and at peace with my body now.

  10. lorna April 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Sorry I thought I read on the protein article you were 200lbs, 9lbs is still ok and it is going in the right direction.

    • trudykelly April 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

      The piece about protein was quoted from an article to explain the science, apologies if that wasn’t clear, however I have mentioned in other posts that my weight hadn’t dropped that much during the new Challenge and that other factors were just as important to me?
      I’m very happy with it, I’m disappointed you’re only ‘ok’ now you see the 9lbs figure rather than 2.5 stone which to have lost over that time period would have been far from sensible, that would have been almost 3lbs a week? I see almost 7 stones as being a pretty massive achievement in 2 and a half years and to have got to the levels of fitness I now have?
      I’m working sensibly, taking a lot of professional advice, enjoying it, eating very well and am very happy with my life? I’m very grateful for the people around me who are being very encouraging and motivating and can really see the effect my new life has had on both the way I feel and look especially over the last couple of months, I’m focusing on the huge achievements I’ve made so far in order to stay focused, to keep enjoying it and inspiring others which is very important to me. I hope you can see that?

  11. lorna April 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Apologies, I didn’t mean for it to sound so negative. You are more likely to keep it off if you lose very slowly!

  12. BabsSteel August 24, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    I came across your blog through Cassie Tillett. It is very inspiring. I love your progress history re the gym as I am going through a similar process. Currently 220 down from 245z lost inches due to heavy weights training which I love! I am using Mfp to log calories and this is particularly useful when home cooking as I can be very accurate. Thanks for your blog. It is a true inspiration!

    Barbara Steel

    • trudykelly August 24, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      Thank you so much Barbara – well done on your achievements too, I know how much effort goes onto every pound and inch! Yours & Cassie’s comments are inspiring me to write some more over the weekend. I’m loving the gym, I have a great trainer who helps me now, she’s money well spent in keeping me focused. Keep going!

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