All on my own…

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So, with fairly short notice my partner is now travelling for at least two weeks. This means I am totally in charge of what I eat and when, as well as how much I work out, when, where, etc.

Which would be great if I were also not at a REALLY major crunch time for the thesis. Which is why this is just posted now when it should have gone up last Tuesday.
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The muscles look a tiny bit more defined in person than they do in the photo, but I still have 3 whole months before the six-pack abs challenge is decided. If they are just coming out now then by June they should be reasonably visible.

I am doing an abs and squat plan now too, which encourages me to do other types of ab workouts, including crunches with my legs raised, twisting crunches, classic situps, and, obviously, squats. I kind of love squats. If I haven’t done any in a while I always feel the burn, which I kind of like. I also just like the motion of them, which reminds me of classic strongmen, like with twirly moustaches and old fashioned striped bathing suits.

I am also drinking a HELL OF A LOT of water, sometimes with flavours or with fizzy vitamin tabs in, sometimes just plain. Which means I am peeing like a racehorse every 40 minutes. Not a bad thing necessarily, since it motivates me to move around more and prevents RSI, but a pain since I am working in the office this weekend and the lights in the loo don’t work. That’s right. I had to bring a torch/flashlight into work with me in order to pee. Le sigh.

Just for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of what I got in this week’s organic veg box delivery.

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Flower sprouts and avocados?!? What joy. Looks like cooking for one will be easy peasy.

Planks are now 1 minute and 10 seconds.

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Boo. Yah. Mofo!

So, the ab workouts and core exercises may be coming into their own, but the diet is seriously derailed. I am finding it very hard to cut calories and fat. I am hungry ALL THE TIME and my partner is not currently trying to do any serious weight loss, which makes planning difficult. On the plus side, we agreed to eat no snack or dessert that we did not make ourselves. On the minus side, we made chocolate fudge brownies. And since there are only two of us, there is still almost half a tray left. D’oh!

 

Nevertheless, I shall persevere. I went to the gym this morning for some rowing, some core work, and some pull up and dip practice. I am using the weight offset machine to offset 15 kilos of my weight for this, and since I weigh 56 kilos (I weighed myself at the gym this morning too) I am pulling up 41 kilos of me! Super! I was using 20 kilos offset, but graduated to 15 and hope to move down to 10 in a few weeks. The core work included some dragon flag practice and some serious planks that each lasted over one minute and ten seconds. Awwww, yeah. I hope to do some research on planks this week to see how else I can improve them, such as doing them on a power plate or on an unstable surface (medicine ball?).

Also at the gym, I wore my Vibram five fingers, which I call my gorilla feet. See photo below.
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And, since today is Tuesday, here is a photo of me belly!

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You can just about see the top 2 muscles in the classic six pack. The rest will be here soon, as soon as I sort out this diet business.

I can feel my abs!

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So, clearly my planks and dragon flag practice is paying off in terms of muscles growth. I can definitely feel little round knots and I am feeling that all the work is easier.

Which means that I need to step up the workouts to keep challenging myself, and that my priority is to lose a few more percent body fat. I shall have to do some internet research.

No picture this week, purely because I was damn busy and forgot. Suck it up. The thesis is advancing though, and I am working on finishing various craft projects so that they are off my to-do list and off my mind. I am also looking forward to having less clutter about from half finished projects.

So for now, it is looking good. Research lies ahead for how to make the most of the 3 and a half months left until the six pack challenge reckoning.

Best title yet

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I have been having a rough time of it lately, so I skipped some runs and cut the runs I did do a bit short.  I have also been trying to maintain a lower heart rate while running, but that is not easy for me, and it means I am constantly being beeped at by my polar or that I have to keep checking on my heart rate, all of which prevent me from getting to runner’s zen… which means my heart rate doesn’t get to fall in zen. Bah.

I have gone to the gym a couple of time though. I had been avoiding it because the place was lousy with January starters. You know the type, the New Year’s Resolutionaries. But most of them have cleared out by now, and they are especially absent first thing in the morning on a weekday. I had never been to the gym on a weekday morning, but I rather liked it and will probably try to make a habit of it. I think it can help me in this particular life goal or personal challenge or whatever you want to call it, but could help me in life in general. I feel quite good at the office today, better than I normally would at this time. Breakfast will be a tricky one though, because I can’t do some serious sporting on a full tummy. Must look into options.

At the gym I usually do either some treadmill running (with incline at least 1%) or some rowing machining, plus some core exercises like planks, superman situps, russian twists (now that the gym has medicine balls!) and proto-dragon flags. I am somewhere between the first two levels of dragon flag training, and hoping to progress rapidly now that I can use the padded bench at the gym more often.

 

I also do some weights, mostly weight offset pull ups and dips, but also chest presses. I need to look into what weight exercises are best for strengthening the back and shoulders and improving posture. Typing this damn thesis out is killing me.
I am liking my new pink and black, almost lacy sport shorts pink shorts more and more. I do need to take off the plastic toggles on the sides, because when I walk on the treadmill to warm up or cool down my arms brush against the hard plastic and that is going to bug. I also need to add pocket, but I think I have just the thing. An old set of Phillips sport headphones came in a little mesh drawstring bag, so I think I might just pin that to the inside. If it works well, I will sew it in. The pinkness of the shorts might also be making the gents in the weight area a bit uncomfortable, which is a bit funny.

So here are some belly pics, two in fact since I missed a week.
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Not doing too badly, I guess, but I think I have hit a plateau and need to kick it up if I am to push through. But I think I can do it. I just need to finish off a handful of things on my to-do list that are creeping around in the back of my mind and preventing me from really making the most of my time, both when I want to focus and when I want to relax.

Awww, thanks.

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Thanks to me that is! I bought myself a few new items of workout wear. Two new pairs of sport socks, two new lightweight sports bra/crop top thingies, and a pair of shorts. All have blindingly bright colours and (excluding the socks, which are just socks) they also have feminine details and sexy backs (the crop tops have lace on the back). It is too cold to be wearing any of this outside yet, but I will give it a debut in the gym over the weekend.

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I have been making a lot of progress on my thesis, have been keeping up with my training calendar, have been eating super healthy (if you ignore the chocolate bars… hormones again, damnit!) and have been keeping the house remarkably tidy. I also finished a couple of little, personal projects and have generally been a very good self. So I decided to reward my self.

But, since I am not keen on owning two much stuff, I also put something into the give-to-charity-shop box at least one item for each of the new things I got. One in, one out. Keeps it under control.

On another note, I wore my heart rate monitor on my walk to work today. It took me 25 minutes, 45 seconds, and I had an average heart rate of 137. According to my monitor, that is 89% of my max heart rate, putting the majority of the walk in my 3rd sport zone and burning 189 kCals… but that sounds totally bonkers to me since I was just strolling at a regular pace.

Anyway, I shall run later today, when I hope to do the majority of the run in my 4th sport zone. We’ll see how that goes.

Run, run, run, run, run, run awaaaay!

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I went out for a long(ish) run yesterday, which was in many ways a bit disheartening. I have lost so much pace! I completely forgot how to get to the zen of running and had a bit of a panic attack instead.
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And I noticed that I was not using good form or foot strike. Le sigh. Well, it is all back to square one I suppose.

Also, the partner and I decided that we would like to sign up for some local 10K races to keep us motivated, and probably a half marathon in April. I just had a look and there are 2 tens in March super close by to ours. Score!
There is also a half in April that we could do. It is not terribly close, which is ok. More importantly, it is not flat. We have been training on the super flat for about… oh… 4 years now? A hilly race will be quite a change. Still, why not try something new, eh? Core muscles will need a hell of a lot of work if we are going to manage that.

In other news, the shop was out of almond milk (really?!?) so I got rice milk instead, in regular and chocolate flavours. I tell you what, chocolate rice milk in your porridge gives you a weird choco-crispy sensation from the oats.

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As promised last week, I want to talk about sports bras. They are not typically considered sexy, especially not the ones that really work. The ones that cover a lot of space, have wide straps, flatten the girls down to prevent as much wobbling as possible. Not really the commonly portrayed image of feminine beauty that society force feeds us, is it?

But when I was running I felt sexy. I felt strong, and powerful, and capable. I felt like I could do whatever I wanted and then make a getaway before anyone noticed that I wasn’t supposed to be doing that.

What does this say about beauty and attraction and sexiness? That to be beautiful is to be incapable? Sexy demands being hobbled by absurdly high heels? Ravishing only applies to those on the verge of asphyxiating due to a whole body spanx?

Personally, I like the natural look most of the time. I spend a lot of time taking care of my skin so that it looks healthy and beautiful, but I don’t wear a lot of make-up. I like bright coloured clothes, sparkly belts, fun scarves, etc. , but I refuse to wear something that is uncomfortable, which is why I only own one pair of heels (and often go barefoot). I actually wear sports bras often, even on days when I am not necessarily planning to work out, because I feel really sexy when I feel comfortable and confident. And on its own, not too many sports bras count as sexy, but when part of a life-size, kick-ass, women package, they are a tool of power.

I just wish it were easier to get them in my size.

On the road again…

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Tuesdays coooooome agaaaaaaiiiiin.

I hope you are singing the song in your head now, and that you will get that song as an earworm for the rest of the day. Also I hope you get the original version. Metallica did a nice cover, but I say original all the way.

Being Tuesday, here is my belly!

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I am working from home today, so when my Work Rave sheep told me to take a break I went for a wee jog. So my picture shows my  running tights, heart rate monitor belt and a snazzy sports bra. Mmmm. Elasticated lack of motion…

While we are on the topic of heart rate monitors, why in all hell is the belt so fecking huge? I mean, who is this thing designed for? Sure, there are very large people out there, and they might represent the largest (ha ha, a pun or play on words) client group who is keenly interested in the details of their heart rate while exercising, but I doubt it. I see a hell of a lot of very central tendency sized people at running events with heart rate monitors, so the largest group of customers is probably average sized people with sporting hobbies.  So what about the small people who are also keen on knowing exactly what their heart is doing right now? People like… oh, I don know… women athletes?!?   You might think they are rarer than hens teeth, what with all women ever obeying outdated stereotypes and all, but trust me, they do exist. I know that I am on the small side of average for the female of the species, but not by much. So why can I not get a heart rate monitor belt that fits off the shelf? I do not expect to have to jigger the belt of a pretty pricey piece of equipment just to get the bastard not to fall down on me mid-run. I learned the hard way, after it fell down on me mid-run. Safety pins were all that was needed to get it smaller, but they tend to leave a little red mark so are less than totally ideal as a solution for the really long runs.

Snort. But if you want to follow the running portion of my new training plan, see here. I have created a new running plan on myasics. It seems to say that I have a half marathon scheduled for April, but I do not. I just thought a half marathon in under 2 hours would be a reasonable goal for me at this point.

After running, I came home, snapped a photo, sat down to blog and ate some excellent chickpeas (or garbanzo bean) and turnip green curry with wild rice. Delicious.

And since I am working from home today, I also taught myself how to fold fitted sheets, put on a duvet cover using the magic burrito method, and did two loads of laundry on the work rave induced breaks. Ace!

Next time, I hope to have an update on the running, tales from the overcrowded-in-January-gym, and a discussion of sports bras, perhaps the true origin of boob loaf.

I got the backslider blues…

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Unfortunately, it looks there was a bit of a time lag over the festive season. As much as I thought I had got away with it, the chocolate, carrots cooked in masses of butter, and totally excessive amounts of fried potato products have caught up with me. I have the backslider blues cause all my work and progress has been lost in wobbliness.

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Sigh. Nevertheless, the picture came out better because I took it in the front room instead of the bedroom. Better light, also warmer. It is now just too chilly to be getting dressed in the bedroom. Ahh, winter. How you try my patience.

The plus side is that I am back into a routine. Working a typical 8 hour day means I get several WorkRave motivated 10 minute ab workouts per day, I am walking the 2 kilometers to work every morning and another 2 to get back home, and I am in charge of my food again! Hooray!

Porridge breakfasts might change as well, since I found several recipes for overnight oatmeal on one of my favourite hipster-ish blogs. You didn’t think that my blog name was totally unrelated to my style, did you? Sucker.

To lend even more credence to my hipster credentials, I am considering ordering a few of these bad boys to give me some more healthy lunch and snack options. Today I did bring celery sticks with a little pot of peanut butter and dried cranberries (so delightful) but who wouldn’t want a coordinated bento set in a mason jar to tote all that about, eh? You know you do.

I am also considering buying a 24 hour fitness wearable, like the fitbit flex or the jawbone up. I already have a heart rate monitor that I used for intense exercise sessions, but I would be interested in a total day perspective, and maybe even sleep quality. I actually had the second worst dream ever in my life last night. Like the first worst that I can remember, it involves insects and my feet. I wonder what that is all about. I also have an android smartphone, so that rules out a few wanker (Oops, I mean Apple) based options. Anyone want to give me feedback on those? How do they work for you? What do you like or not like about them? What do you find useful or annoying?

Damn you, Cadbury!

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So, I skipped a week because… well… Xmas and all. My partner and I did two solid days of cooking and baking since the normal cook is undergoing chemo at the mo. But we pulled it off! Very successfully, in fact, with approval all around for the brined turkey, the two cakes, the Michelin star carrots and the traditional pate starter. Still, lots of work.

I did not get any running done at all, because of the health issues and such, but I did quite a few core exercises, and I tried out some little weights designed to slip over the feet so that leg raises and such are more difficult. I am so getting me some of those. I also controlled my intake as much as is reasonable, but to be honest, I could have been more restrictive. There was a tin of Roses that laid me low (I shake my fist at you Cadbury!) and there was several real ales that probably did me no favours. But that is the holidays for you.

Here is the newest photo! As you can see, I am wearing my newest pair of lucky underpants. My partner and I give each other a pair for Xmas every year and then wear them for the first time on nochevieja. Ahhh, traditions!

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It is not yet a six pack, but I have to say that I do not feel that the holidays and all the challenges that they typically present have slowed me down too much. We have a few more days of travel before heading home, and they are likely to be difficult because I am not sure how much opportunity I will have to cook for myself or to or how much control I will have over what I eat, but you never know. the problem with staying with the in-laws is that you have little choice at all, so maybe staying with a friend will be better.

And then! back home! Oh joy. We get our weekly veg delivery box again! I can cook what I like and limit the fat content that goes into it! I can go to the gym! I can go for a run without worrying if someone needs their pills or help getting to the toilet or company while the medication takes effect! I can go back to the office, with my exercise mat and my scheduled breaks and my huge bottle of water and my office buddy to encourage me to achieve my goals!

I know what you are thinking. That is some strange things to be excited about, but this holiday has been more of a change in the work I do than a break from work… and the PhD deadline looms… LOOMS! I am so looking forward to a proper vacation after it is done.

Over a fifth of me is fat.

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Calipers have been used, and I have 21% body fat. Which is well inside the healthy or ideal category for a woman of my age. I may do the caliper test again later because it warns that the menstrual cycle can lead to misleading readings.

21%. Over one fifth. It means that I have almost 12 kilos of fat. Now, some of that will be intramuscular, some of that will be sub-cutaneous, and some of that will be visceral, and of course, my body would cease functioning properly if I had less than 13% or so.

Obviously, I don’t really need to lose fat for health reasons, although I suppose a reduction in visceral fat, the fat surrounding internal organs, would not be a bad thing. Even though 21% seems like a lot, at least compared to the body composition of men, I don’t really want to lower that just for the sake of lowering it. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if all the fat that covers my abs couldn’t just get relocated to my backside. I have always wanted a bedonkadonk.

So, in fact, this is going to be a very difficult challenge. I don’t have that much fat to lose. If I want six pack abs, I am going to have to do some serious working out to whittle down the fat I do have, particularly the tummy area, and to strengthen and build the muscles underneath so they show as much as possible.

So, my plan for now has three main steps.

  1. Get back into running. The last time I had well defined ab at all (only a 2 or 4 pack, unfortunately) was when I was training for distance running.
  2. Core muscles training. Big time. Long lasting planks, possibly on a wobble board or foam roller to make them trickier later on, dragon flags, windshield wipers, lots of other good stuff.
  3. Diet. I need to reduce the fat intake and the total calories as much as is reasonable. Xmas is going to be tricky.