Monday, April 30, 2012

The One With The Excuses

Hi all. Remember me?

First off, apologies for taking yet ANOTHER long leave of absence. When I last posted I was off home for a visit. After that I came back to London, then went off for another home visit. Then Uni started up again, and before I knew it, weeks had passed! I've been planning on posting again for most of this week, but never quite got round to it, and eventually decided to just leave it until Monday.

But I'm posting now. You see, I realised that this 'putting off' wasn't limited to just the blog. I've been putting off a lot of things in the last couple of weeks. To cut a long story short...I fell off the wagon. Big time.

The problems started just after my successful Marathon Week. I had thought that having a few weeks holiday after last term would give me a lot of time, with no commitments, in which I could exercise easily and get away with a calorie-restricted diet. In fact, it worked in almost completely the opposite way - having a few weeks off with no commitments meant I was sat in my room, twiddling my thumbs, with nothing to distract me from my appetite.

Another problem with the time off is that my sleep pattern got shot to hell. I actually wound up in a strange 48-hour cycle, where I would stay awake for 36 hours, have a massive 12-hour sleep binge, and then repeat again. This meant I was groggy in the morning and absolutely worn out the next morning, so I a) didn't feel up to any exercise, and b) was drinking a lot of high-sugar energy drinks.

And it wasn't just the sleep I've been binging on. In this last week, we had a full reversion to the old pattern - "I'll start dieting again tomorrow, so let's get all my binging out of my system tonight with one last blow out". We all remember how well that worked in the past, right?

All in all, its been a terrible couple of weeks (punctuated by the somewhat good news that I passed my last set of exams!). The funny thing is though, there's a part of me which is glad.

You see, its obvious to me (and no doubt to you) that I've been treading water for MONTHS. The old enthusiasm that drove me to my early successes at the start was replaced with...I don't know...satisfaction? I was pleased with my progress (and I am still a lot lighter than I was this time last year), but I have been losing and then regaining the same weight since last summer. I've never really rediscovered that old zeal...until (perhaps) now.

You see, for the first time in a long time, I actually feel FAT again. Part of my brain has been registering the regular small losses I've made, but has been discounting the gains that undo them. As such, a moment came this week where I looked in the mirror, and the figure reflected back didn't match the expectation in my head anymore. It all came crashing back into focus. And I got MAD.

I'm ready to start doing this properly again. I'm going to wrap up this post now as its already too long, but there are going to be some changes coming - changes to how I use this blog, and the content/style of my posts. I'll explain more in a future entry, and will log off for now. I'll see you tomorrow for a catch-up weigh-in, where you can expect a large gain (I expect), but also a promise...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Hi all!

I wanted to post something this morning, as I'm off home this afternoon for a couple of days and don't know if I'll have a chance to blog, and didn't want to be silent until the weekend. I've only really got two things to talk about today, both realisations I've had this week - one bad, the other good.

The bad realisation I've had involves the state of my diet. As well as my running target last week, I also wanted to really try and pay more attention to what I was eating, as my dieting wasn't as effective as it had been, and my exercising wasn't having quite the same impact. Also, with money an increasing concern, I thought I could kill two birds with one stone, and really look at what I was buying and eating by holding on to my receipts for the week.

Well, let's just say I have been eating FAR more junk than I was admitting to myself. My standard food shop is actually pretty healthy and budget friendly, but what became apparent on going through my receipts is all the little extras and 'treats' that have snuck in. When I go to the supermarket I do my normal shop, but there are several additions that have no business being in there. If I've been exercising, I'll treat myself to some chocolate or ice-cream. I'll buy some carb-heavy processed junk food 'just for today'. I'll buy a pack of candy 'just for now and then', but the truth is I'll graze on them all day, and they won't last until the next. What is worse, all these additions have been sneaking under my 'calorie radar', and when I try to tally up how many calories I think I've eating on a given day, I'll often severely underestimate the impact all these 'little extras' have been having.

Well, not any more! Now I'm aware of it, I can start trying to deal with it. I think what I need to do, rather than eat whatever I want and then try to add up the calories at the end of the day, is to allocate myself a calorie limit every morning. Each meal will be subtracted from this total, and when its gone, I'm not allowed to eat anymore. That's the best way I can think of to actually keep track of how many calories are in each meal, where the extras are coming from, and what foods work best for my diet.

On a more positive note, I have rediscovered the joys of the early-morning run. I started running in the afternoon during my marathon week, as then I had slightly longer before the next run the following evening. Well, last night I couldn't (and didn't) sleep at all, so when it got to 5am, I decided to just go out for a run, before the commuter traffic hit. And it was wonderful! I always used to run at dawn in the past, and even said that I preferred it, way back at the start of the blog. But recently, I've only been going out in the evening.

It just feels fantastic, exercising first thing - the air is fresh and clear, there's nobody about and you feel like the city is yours, you start your day off actively and positively, and to see the sky pale as I pound the streets just makes me feel so much more alive than an evening run into ever-deepening gloom. It literally is a new day dawning, and its great for motivation. I plan on trying to make my runs early-morning as much as I can from hereon out.

Anyway, that's it! I'm going to try and exercise while I'm at home too, which will mean going back to old routes I haven't run in years. I've already said how I tend to binge when I go home, so I'm really going to have to watch that. I'll update again at the weekend, to let you know how I've done!

Monday, April 9, 2012

2012 Week 13 - RESULTS

After achieving my goal of running a marathon distance last week, how has the weight been affected?

STARTING WEIGHT:   222.4 lbs

ENDING WEIGHT:  220.9 lbs

WEIGHT LOSS:    1.5 lbs

Now, on the one hand, this is a pretty substantial loss, which is very satisfying. Also, coming after a two week period where I gained weight, it is nice to see the scales moving in the right direction again.

I've always made an effort not to focus too much on negatives, but I have to be honest, sometimes its the negatives that drive me on more than the positives. As such, there are a few things about this weigh-in that still frustrate me.

1) After running almost 30 miles last week, I might have expected a bigger loss
2) Last week's loss doesn't undo the gains over the preceding two weeks, so I am still 'up'
3) I have been losing and regaining the same 10 lbs for months now, and I'm getting bored of it

So there they are. Its these sort of facts that drive me on far more successfully than the positive aspects, I find. So, let's hope I can use them to score another loss this coming week!

I'm resting from exercise today, but still want to try and get in at least three runs this week. Also, I am heading home for a short visit on Wednesday. On every previous visit home, my diet has gone out of the window, and I've binged on bread and chocolates and flapjacks etc etc. I HAVE to try and resist this time around - it would really damage my resolve to take a step backwards so soon after another period of gains. I'm going to take my running gear with me, and try to exercise while I'm there, to try and undo any slips I might make, and I'll still have the weekend here in London, so if I do misbehave, I can get a couple more runs in before weigh-in on Monday!

 2012 Weight Loss: 
4.0 lbs (76.2 total loss)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Marathon Week - VICTORY!

I did it!

Ended up waking up a lot later than I planned to today, as some of the other people on our estate were apparently raised in a zoo, and were screeching and howling at each other until dawn. Still, as soon as I woke up I got on my running gear and hit the pavements!

I knew I had to run less than a mile to reach my target, but I did the full distance anyway, so my tally for the week is actually almost 30 miles, well over the marathon distance I planned for. Very pleased!

I wonder if I'll ever be fit enough to actually run a marathon? Or even just a half-marathon? I read somewhere that different runners are built for different disciplines - that some are natural sprinters, some are more inclined to long distance etc. If that's true, then I think I must be built for the couch, as I don't see myself as particularly fast on the straight OR overly rich in stamina. I worked out from my distances and times that week that, if I could maintain my usual pace and not stop, I would run a marathon in 4 hours 10 minutes. That's complete nonsense of course, as its taken me a week to cover that distance, but it certainly gives me something to aim for, if I ever did decide to tackle the big one!

Its a shame my weight doesn't reflect the effort I've put in to the running this week. I was certainly at a loss as of this morning, but nowhere near what one might reasonably expect after almost 30 miles of exercise! Then again, this week was ALWAYS about getting back into the exercise groove, and I think I've done that, so let's see if we can do something with the scales next week, eh?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Final Mile...

Hello again!

I just got back in from my sixth run this week. The DailyMile widget over on the right is already recording a weekly distance of 26 miles, but that's because it rounds up - I've actually run 6 x 4.26 miles, so 25.56 miles so far.

And that, of course, means that I have less than one mile to go hit my target of covering a marathon distance this week!

I'll be really proud of it as an achievement, but I know that to the more serious runners out there (the ones who, you know, actually run marathons), it might seem like small potatoes.

It has made me wonder though, what my actual running limits are. I've chosen my regular distance of 4-and-a-bit miles, just because at a regular pace I can cover that distance, plus a pre-run warm up and a post-run shower, in more or less exactly an hour. That made it nice and easy to fit into my daily schedule.

There are two stats I often see other runners quote though, that I have no data for:

1) How fast I can run a mile
2) How far can I run non-stop

My average speed over my usual run is about 9-10 minutes a mile, but I never sprint (expect occasionally right at the end), and I am pacing myself for the whole distance, so I would be interested to see how fast I can run just a single mile, flat out. I'd have to find a running track or something to test it out though, as I usually run on the busy London streets, and regularly have to stop for traffic or sleepy pedestrians!

As for how far I can run...I honestly don't know. I certainly feel ready to stop once I've reached the end of my regular distance. Then again, my breathing has usually returned to normal within about 20 seconds of stopping, and my time hasn't really improved after about a year of I expect I'm not really pushing myself as far as I could go.

I'm tempted to try both these out in due course. Not too soon though - going to give myself a day off after Marathon Week!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 4 of Marathon Week...

So far, so good!

Just got my fourth run done, so I've now covered 16 miles for the week, leaving me with 10 and a bit miles left this week for me to hit my marathon distance. Well, I say that, but...

This is my jogging route mapped out according to DailyMile, the fitness site I recently started using to track my exercise (you can see the widget over on the right).

Now the thing is, when I planned this route, I used Google Earth, and on that software, the route I run is exactly 4 miles.

The DailyMile map above also seems to use Google, but when I put my route into the map there, it comes out at a whole quarter of a mile longer!

I'm satisfied that I should at least be covering the 4 miles I plan to, but if there's any chance I've actually been running more than that (even only quarter of a mile more) I'll be happy!

On another note, you'll notice I've been blogging more this week. Part of that is forced, trying to make myself post more often, in the hopes I get into the habit again. But you know something else? I've realised that a lot of the things I want to post about occur to me on my runs! So when I'm not running, I can't think of anything to post, and when I'm not posting I lose motivation, so I don't run as much...its a vicious circle that (touch wood) I won't fall into again any time soon!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 3 of Marathon Week

Just got back in from my third run of the week. So far, we seem to be on track, and if all goes well I should hit my marathon distance sometime on Sunday.

Its funny - for weeks before now, I've been looking for any excuse not to exercise, and yet now, its second nature. I actually found myself out on today's run before I'd even decided I was going - it just sort of happened, because I was bored. I don't know why sometimes exercise seems to be the last thing I want to do, whereas on other days its just a given, and I don't even have to think about it. Funny old world, I guess!

I'm getting quite sore now, and the blisters are rearing their ugly heads, but I think I've got enough left in the tank to hit my goal this week. I don't know what the weight will be like though - I lost a hefty amount after Monday's run, but this morning the weight had gone back up again (still at a loss, but Tuesday's run seems to have caused me to gain weight). I've already said that this has happened before, when I don't take my rest-days between exercise, so it means I can't at all predict Monday's weigh-in! If I've exercised every day before then though, I won't really mind so much.

Marathon Week

Evening all!

After yesterday's quite grumpy post, I actually feel pretty perky today! I think I just needed to vent a little. I felt perfectly justified ignoring my weight-loss during revision, but once the post-exam happiness wore off, all I was left with was a substantial gain in weight, and the realisation that I would have to lose the same pounds ALL OVER AGAIN. They say hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I'm sure I COULD have exercised, had I planned my revision better/done it earlier. But hey, that's enough focussing on past failures, right? Let's look forward to what I've got planned for this week!

And the title rather gives it away. This week, I am running a marathon. Now, before anyone gets too impressed, I'm not REALLY running a marathon. Rather, I'm trying to cover a marathon distance before my Monday weigh-in.

As I usually run 4 miles when I exercise, and a marathon is 26.2 miles, I have decided to just try and run my 4-mile route every day this week. If I manage it that will give me 28 miles, so a marathon and then some, but its nice to have some breathing space, so I can cut one run short if I want to.

I have actually done this before, on my previous weight loss attempt (so some time around 2009-2010). I decided to do it again this week, as a way of kick-starting the weight loss again, now my exams are over. I've got a couple of weeks before Uni starts up again, and I want to use this time, when I'm free of commitments, to really nail down some things. Things like getting into a regular exercise routine. A regular DAILY routine, in fact - I want set sleep hours, set times when I ought to be working, etc etc. I've been coasting for so long, and one of the reasons I had to forgo exercise during revision was because I'd left it so late.

I've written about this before - when I was planning to lose weight in the past, I would always put it off, always say I would start tomorrow. The same thing has been happening in other aspects of my life, for about as long - I put things off, leave them to the last minute, and then just do enough to get by. I'm the king of procrastinators! I know I'm capable of so much more than I let myself achieve, and its especially frustrating as I've actually achieved quite a lot in my time, so I can't help but wonder how much better I'd be if I wasn't winging it all the time!

As such, I'm hoping that some of the lessons I've learned from my weight loss can be used to improve other aspects of my life. Its a lot to ask for, I know, but fingers crossed.

Anyway, a bit of a diversion there! I ran on Monday and again this evening, so I've already bagged 8 miles for this week towards my goal. The weight is already at a decent loss, but I don't want to count my chickens just yet - the last time I did this marathon week, I didn't actually lose very much weight, for whatever reason (retaining water/building muscle/eating more to compensate etc etc). In a way this week isn't so much about losing weight as it is about getting back into my exercise. That is the main goal, and if I can achieve that, the weight loss will follow!

Monday, April 2, 2012

2012 Weeks 10-12 Results, and UPDATE

Evening all,

It has been a long while since I last properly weighed in. Part of that was because I had exams (which I think actually went OK, thank goodness), but its also just because...I couldn't be bothered. I've really found my interest and motivation in the whole program hit a wall in the last couple of weeks.

But hey, let's weigh in first, before we get into all that.

Week 10 - 218.4 (-0.5)
Week 11 - 219.4 (+1.0)
Week 12 - 222.4 (+3.0)

As you can see, in Week 10 I still wasn't running, but watching my diet meant I still recorded a little loss.

Week 11 was the lead-up to my exams, so I was eating slightly more, and pulling long nights powered by sugary energy drinks. As such, I expected my weight to go up that week. I actually went for a run that Sunday night though, so the gain of 1.0lb could probably have been even higher.

But its the Week 12 result that is the telling one. My exam was on Tuesday, and to be fair I was carb-loading in the lead up to it, trying to make sure my brain had all the energy it needed! But here's the thing - after that exam, I was effectively on holiday. With all the time in the world. No distractions, no deadlines - I should have (and I planned to) use it as a great chance to get back into exercise.

Instead, the increased eating really fired up my hunger, and the whole of last week was a return to the old "I'll start dieting tomorrow, so let's enjoy myself today" nonsense. I have been eating obscene amounts, and of absolute crap too. Its really disappointing, especially since I had planned to begin afresh on Wednesday after the exam!

As it is, I have to try and begin afresh today. Its really hard - I cannot express how HUNGRY I am right now, and how close I am to leaving the house this instant and going to pick up a kebab. But I'm going to have to try not to. 

I have at least just got back from a run, which is a good sign...but as this post is already quite long I won't explain my plans just yet. We'll see if I can find the motivation to post again tomorrow. Honestly? I'm not promising anything. And I'm NOT saying that I'm giving up, not at all - I'm just not enjoying writing about it as much any more. Maybe I'm just feeling this way because I've been very stressed recently with exams, and still am with my course, all my debts, needing to find a part-time job, needing to find a cheaper place to live etc etc. I'm just not having any fun. And I don't want the blog to become too much about me just grumbling all the time. That said, I also don't want to be faking a cheery happy-go-lucky persona when I write, as that's disingenuous. So, we'll see.