What you do is what you get

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So, god intentions aside, I have not been as dedicated as I could be in pursuit of my fitness goals recently.

Do not get me wrong. I have done stuff.
I signed up for a 10K race in late May.
I ran (actually jogged and walked) about 7K on Sunday.
I went for a jog/walk yesterday evening when I REALLY wanted to stay in and loaf on the sofa.

But, I have not been putting on my sports kit every day. I have not been pushing myself to work a variety of muscle groups, to gain flexibility, to improve strength.

I also have not been reigning myself in in relation to food, so my increased activity has been (over-)compensated by eating.

But, there is no point in crying over spilled lactose-free milk substitute. I have my sports kit on now and will do a home exercise/bodyweight video.
As soon as this show is done.e

Alternatives

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I chose that title for a few reasons.

  • I have an alternative relationship, which the UK immigration has refused to recognize. That is to say, my visa was refused.
  • I will have to pursue an alternative immigration pathway. I have spoken to HR services at the university in the UK and they are confident that this alternative can be pursued but think that I may need a later start date.
  • Rather than deal with the disappointment by drinking myself into a stupor or dwelling in a pit of despair, I chose an alternative – I went for a run.

Two steps forward, one step nowhere

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I have been running. Well, jogging, really, but I am counting it as running. And I have gone for a run twice in the last week. Before too long I will be up to three times a week and then I will be able to start and follow a running plan to get on with marathon training.

I have fallen back on my old chestnut tactic of running for two songs and walking for one. This lets me catch my breath and move up through the gears slowly.  I know that this is not a particularly professional strategy, but it keeps me motivated without being too routine or boring. Eventually, I will switch up to running for three songs and then walking for on. By the time that feels easy I am usually in a place to train like a professional.

On another note, I am still waiting for a decision on the visa application. Tired of waiting, and feeling quite anxious. It is unnerving to have your whole life and near-term future in someone else’s hands. But this is what I have, so I will have to wait. I shall just have to do more house cleaning in the meantime to work on those nerves.

Thoughts and snow

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Things are going reasonably well, I believe. I have been able to put on my sports kit and do 10 minutes or more of sporting every day. Most of those days have been easy-going yoga, but I have also done a workout video, gone for a walk and gone for a walk/jog. Overall, I am feeling very optimistic.

I am also keeping up with tracking my food intake. So everything is ticking over just fine for now. Let us hope it keeps on in the same way.

On a more optimistic note, I was looking at races in October. I would still like to do a marathon, but maybe a half marathon is more reasonable. I could try to do 2 in quick succession. I will have to check out training schedules to see what is reasonable.

And on an unrelated note, I have been cleaning like a mad person while going mad waiting to hear on the immigration status. When was the last time you scrubbed out the drawers in your kitchen? Cleaned underneath your sink? Removed all the gunk and horror from the top of the extractor hood?

 

 

Gooooooooooaaallll!

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Goals, rather, because I set more than one for myself. All of them are to be completed, or at least attempted to the best of my ability, by my next birthday in October.

  • Run a marathon
  • Join a gym and start a weight training regime
  • Get my body fat percentage below my BMI

Let me talk about these a bit more. Marathons are not always easy to find in a place and time frame that work well. Further complicating matters, I do not know for 100% certain where I will be in October, as I do not yet have my residence permit for the UK in hand. So, wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I will try my best to find a mid- or late-October marathon. If not, I might end up running two half marathons on subsequent weekends, a 30K race plus a 10K training run, or just a personal marathon in the form of a long training session. We shall see.

Likewise, joining a gym cannot happen until I know where I will be for at least 6 months at a stretch. However, if the residence permit goes according to plan and I start the job as expected, then I hope to join the fitness center directly across the road from the office. It is an aquatic center, so I could get back into swimming in a big way (not done that for YEARS!). But I understand that there is also a fitness area with weights as well as the pools, so it should be about ideal.

As for BMI, I have always been pretty low in the scale. Typically 18 or 19 if I remember correctly. When I used calipers back in my 6 pack abs challenge, I found that my body fat percentage was 21… I think. Maybe higher. Either way, body fat was higher than BMI. Women cannot get their body fat percentage as low as men can, at least not in a healthy way, but they can certainly get below 18. At the same time, weight training is likely to raise my BMI slightly by making my body more dense and muscled. Both of these facts mean that I should be able to get the body fact below the BMI while still being healthy and strong. I do not have either a scale or calipers, so I will need to find a way to measure¬† those at some point if I am to make proper progress on this goal.

Although the first two goals are a bit contingent on what happens in the future, I can start building good habits now. I have decided to put on my sports kit EVERY SINGLE DAY and do at least ten minutes of sport. At this point, that includes gentle yoga and walking along the canal by my house. When the habit is embedded, I plan to step up the intensity but even then there will be rest days that only need a bit of walking or yoga. I have also decided to track everything I eat for the first week of every month. I am using the MyFitnessPal website and app. I fond it a bit cumbersome, but I am not too bothered about being super precise on calories or nutrient content or whatever. I really just want a way to get a better overview of my habits, tastes, and intakes. By comparing the weeks that I track between now and October, I will see how my habits and tastes change. Finally, in the absence of a scale and calipers, I plan to take a photo of my body once a week and take some measurement with a tape measure once a week to get a more objective record of what my body is like. If it all goes well, I may make a video montage.

 

Do not hold your breath on that.

 

 

Things have changed. Mostly, but not entirely, for the better.

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It has been over half a year since I last blogged. I know, I know. You have been on the edge of your seat this whole time.

Quite a lot has happened in that time:

  • I successfully defended my PhD thesis, so I am now Dr. 42KickingHipsters.
  • My crazy family came for a visit to see the defense ceremony and I dealt with that without killing anyone.
  • I ran/jogged/walked a very asthmatic 10K race for my second worst time ever.
  • I created and used a custom 32 page Holiday cookbook for all the Xmas cooking (from brining a turkey to baking several different cakes).
  • After two years of being effectively unemployed, I got a new job at the University of Manchester, which I am scheduled to start in April.
  • I got some paperwork that I had been waiting on for AGES that allowed me to finally apply for a visa to move to the UK. That will be important before I start the new job.

All of that has been stressful. All of that has been full of uncertainty. All of that has been full of obligations, timing, expenses and organization that was beyond my control. And it is not over yet because I still do not have full confirmation that I will get the visa for the UK. More waiting, more uncertainty.

I had to give up my gym membership and do not know when I can get another one. I could not sign up for a marathon or half-marathon (a big motivator for me) and still cannot until I can be sure where I will be in a month or two months or three months time. I had a topsy-turvy schedule that made it really hard to get into a routine or to eat consistently good options. I lost my office at the university after the defense ceremony so I no longer had a reason to go for a 4K round trip walk every day. My days are now full of very little, mostly trying to clean, organize, pack, research stuff at home so my only excuse now for poor exercise and eating is ennui.

Consequently, I am out of shape. I am still wearing all my old clothes (could not afford to buy new ones anyway) but they no longer fit me the way I like them to. I know a lot of people would be quite happy to have my body as it is now, and I am not saying that anyone who looks like me needs to change they way they look. But I do not feel that I look like myself. I am just a bit softer, squishier, less athletic looking than my mental image of myself. I am not happy with the way I look.

I tried to do an online workout video yesterday. I could not finish it. But more than just not finishing it, I felt really inflexible, weak, incapable. Putting in a specific effort made me realize how often recently I have been out of breath, off-balance, and helpless. I am sure a lot of people would be happy to have problems as minor as mine, but this does not match my mental image of myself as an active, confident, energetic person. I am not happy with how I feel.

So, I am starting up a new challenge. I am not going to wait for it to be convenient for me to get healthy. I am not going to put my health and feelings and self-image on hold until the stars align and magically my lifestyle allows me to look and feel the way I used to. True, I cannot yet join a gym and do some proper strength training the way I want. But I will not let that stop me from doing the best I can with what I have.

I will take a suitably nerdy approach so I will be recording and measuring. Get ready for some information overload as I decide what my concrete goals will be, what my target time frames are, what measurements I will track, and how much information i will be sharing.

As always, feel free to tell me what works or does not work for you. You can encourage me, ask me questions, or throw metaphorical eggs at me in an attempt to troll me.