Quitting is not an option

When opportunities keep knocking…

I’m sat in uni and should be studying as while the trimester is almost over, I’ve still got a couple of reports and an exam to go. Funny thing is originally I started this post over the weekend and the following few paragraphs were my headspace then.

“Yes, I’m procrastinating. I should be finishing off a qualitative research analysis report due for Tuesday; or filling out my VRA log, but instead I’m sat here blogging.  Thing is I know why, my headspace has been a little off for the last few days, and I can’t concentrate.

I’ve had a fairly good week so far, then it hit Thursday and things started to go awry.  I sent my fella a couple of update videos on my squats and RDLs, along with some of my mate T (Spirited Fitness), whose training with me.  The conversation my partner and I had started off well enough, T is actually doing ok given she’s only been training for a few weeks with me.  So, I’m not doing a bad job of teaching her.

That’s when it got a bit disheartening.

I’ve got some issues showing in my own form.

I knew already when I watched the replay of the videos before I sent them that something was going on.  Ended up getting my lad to video me again for a better insight; and yep, there’s definitely something going on.  Which hurts when you come out of a workout feeling happy because you’ve just done your personal best that felt really good, and then realise you’re screwing things up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doing really bad.  There’s just a slight imbalance in my body throwing me off kilter that I can’t see; or feel, when I’m doing the exercises.  It just became one of those realisation moments when I’m sat on this side of the world, and the man who could help me is sat on the other side, and all I want is for him to be here to help me.”

Hope or Despair

Thing is it’s almost a week later now since I wrote the above.  I havent trained this week. Lack of time was a big issue, though I also admit motivation had hit rock bottom.  In fact; headspace was that low, I hadn’t only hit the bottom of the barrel I’d dug 4 foot under it. However,  I haven’t been idle either.  I got on with assignments; dealt with a kid who was sick, and out of the blue was given an opportunity to expand my horizons from an unexpected angle.

Last night this opportunity took potentially an even better turn; and while I’m keeping the information to myself for the time being, let’s just say I’m hoping I can pull it off in the next few weeks.

So I guess this post is to remind myself that no matter how low I get; or how many times I feel like I’m struggling to stay afloat, my life always seems to throw up positives.  I may have days (yesterday was one) where I wake up and just feel so out of sorts I’ll end up crying for no reason at all. However, I can never really quit on myself; because despite my tendency to prepare for the worst, my stubborn inner core knows there’s likely to be something good coming.

Waiting for the Almighty…I mean exam results

When your future lies in other people’s hands…

Waiting for exam results is one of the most horrid things you can do.  This week saw me get the results of an essay and an exam.  The essay was a pleasant surprise.  My best score yet for this year, on a paper that I had a slight worry I’d gone off track with.  It wasn’t enough to make me think I’d fail.

However; when your tutor had hammered on about how essential it was to include multiple details from the case study (which is referring to details that are 4 years out of date), and all your referenced information sources are giving total different answers because they are more current.  Yeah, you can start to think you’re going to lose marks.

Exam results

The business exam was my nagging issue though.  I dislike exams to begin with.  Not because I don’t know the information  or I haven’t studied, but that whole feeling of my future lies on what I can produce in the next 60-180 minutes.  I usually go blank for the first 10 minutes with a complete mind block; trying to pick out a question I can answer easily to get me started.

The exam threw everyone in my class, as the structure of it was nothing like we had expected.  We all knew about the multiple choice questions, and the fact that on some sections we had to go careful. If we got the answers wrong; we didn’t just not gain marks, we actually lost them too.  However; no-one was expecting the two essay style questions that were worth three-quarters of the entire paper’s marks.

Now I’m usually pretty reasonable.  I know I am good at what I do. I have a tendency to waffle (as you may notice); but on the whole I understand and retain things enough, so that waiting for assignment results means I’m expecting to pass.  It’s my own pride that wants it to be more than just a pass, and to be one of the top scorers.

For this exam though; I even got to the point I enquired about the procedures for re-sitting the module, I was that sure I’d flunked it.  My friends know that’s not like me, and it’s been a rough few weeks.  I tried to put it to the back of my mind, but failing would mean a change in some short-term plans I’m trying to arrange, and set me back in the longer term plans I have.

Guess this shows up one of my personal failings though, and that’s I don’t deal well with situations that are out of my control.  I’m not OCD over things in a major way.  Day-to-day I’m pretty laissez-faire in the fact if you can do something better than me, or want to do something different, then go for it.  Everyone’s life is their own to lead; if it doesn’t impact negatively on mine or my family’s, I don’t care what you do.

I just hate it when my future depends on someone else’s decisions that I have no control over.  Mainly for the fact that I lose the certainty factor of things being achievable, and doubts creep in.  Guess that’s why I do tend to have a more pessimistic view on life.  Not because I’m trying to be depressive; but more for the fact that I believe if I prepare for the worst, anything less is a bonus.

Anyway; after being told results were up on Tuesday for checking, and a few moments of ‘I can’t look.’  I went to check my mark, then sat in shock for the rest of the evening as not only did I pass, but somehow I passed with an A.  Several days later, and after a conversation with my tutor, I’m still bemused on how well I did.  Guess there’s something  in this 42 year old brain after all.

Yes I passed

Lifestyle, Not Diet

When the diet is unsustainable.

“Eighty percent kitchen, twenty percent exercise.”

 

Fresh Fridge
The new fresh foods fridge

That’s the old adage often bandied around when asked how to lose weight. How true it may be is up for your own interpretation, as there is a school of thought that thinks the 80/20 rule means eating healthily for eighty percent of the time, and indulging for twenty percent with no referral to exercise.

What I believe to be true is that: a) it’s not about losing weight, it’s about losing fat and building muscle to help change your body composition; and b) the best way to change your body is to utilise tools from both a nutritional point of view and an exercise one.

My basic routine is monitor my food intake; making sure I get a good balance of protein, carbs and fat, while working to a calorie deficit. This may sound funny given the size I was; but I’m a forgetful eater, so tracking my food helps me remember to eat. I very rarely feel hungry; and can go for most of the day before realising I’ve not had anything.

Exercise wise; I weight train in my own home gym (currently 4 times a week), and attend tai chi once a week.  However; this post isn’t about me telling you my way is the best way, or that it fits everyone. It fits me; and I’m getting results in MY body, which what I want.

Pickled Coleslaw
Pickled Coleslaw

I guess the biggest difference between now and my previous attempts is my mindset shifted, and I stopped thinking about being on a diet trying to lose weight. Instead my aim for the past several years has been to change my lifestyle; and lose fat whilst building muscle.

Yes, there have been ups and downs, especially over the past 18 months.  Family issues, lack of motivation, sinking into the darkest recesses of my mind have all been obstacles in my way.  Add the fact it took me years to get where I was; and the amount of fat to lose, I’m not going to magically fix myself in a few months.  However; like riding a bike, I never truly forgot what to do because I had begun to engrain it into my life.

That’s why last weekend; after having got another fridge (finally!!!) and loading up on fresh fruit and vegetables, I got my daughter helping me out in the kitchen.  Pickled coleslaw, chilli jam, banana bread, and pickled cucumber to name a few of the things we put together.  You see; changing my lifestyle means I’ve been changing the whole family lifestyle as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an ogre. There are no “bad” foods. We still go out for meals, and the kids still get treats.  It’s simply some foods need to be moderated a little more than others, and I’m trying to teach my children how they can make better choices for themselves.  I don’t want to see my kids to suffer healthwise as I have, and the easiest way to do that is to teach them now.

Plus; with all the social activities and clubs they have going on, and their preference for technology when they are in the house, it’s actually nice to be able to spend time creating yummy  foods together as a family.

Spicy Burgers Cooked
Homemade spicy burgers

I’ll sleep when I’m dead

When sleep don’t come easy…

It’s been a  hectic week, but I’m heading into the weekend with positive thoughts in my head.  Which is a lot better than where my headspace was at 0800 hours Monday morning.

Issues with kids are never a good start to anyone’s day.  Neither is sitting at your computer an hour later; working out the day’s plan in your head as you fill out a form, and suddenly realise it’s the 27th and you have a university report deadline at 1700 hours the following day.  Needless to say all plans went out the window.  My Tai Chi class was skipped, my workout was scrapped, and emergency measures instigated.

Problem was; it wasn’t I hadn’t done any work, I’d just lost track of the date and had spent the weekend doing other reports that are also due over the next few weeks.  However; a full day of me working on computer, and proofreading by my lovely partner, saw me going to bed with a report that was basically finished.  The following morning had me just doing a final proofread and checking the referencing before submitting and heading off to my business research class.

The rest of the week has gotten better over time.  Workouts got done on Tuesday and Wednesday; another report is almost complete, a group assignment has been started, and I’ve even helped my training partner (Spirited Fitness) start her own blog to record her journey.  In fact there’s only one issue I can’t seem to fix at the moment, and that’s my sleeping habits.

decent-sleep

I’ve always had issues sleeping.  Some people would class me as an insomniac, but years ago several doctors agreed I didn’t fit the criteria as I don’t display the classic signs.  It wasn’t I couldn’t sleep;  and would lay tossing and turning, even though I was tired. It was I just didn’t get tired.  I could function normally for a few days (my personal record is 5 days) with no sleep; and then would crash for hours, or spend a few days catnapping as well as going to bed.

Now I do get more tired (probably old age lol); and my max is usually two days before I’m ready for my bed.  However; now there are nights I lay awake trying to sleep but it doesn’t come, or I wake up at regular intervals.  I’m still able to function properly the following day, but I can feel less refreshed than I should.

Funny thing is though; I can go to sleep easily during the day for a few hours, if I have the time which is rare.  Another interesting factor is; I rarely have issues sleeping properly at night if I’m in New Zealand with my fella.

With my weight training I know I need the sleep to help my body recover.  So I guess I’ve just got to try to figure out how to make myself drop off and get a decent night’s sleep on a more regular basis than I am.

Naked Workout

Pushing through the excuses

This morning I woke up and my body ached.  While I have been getting back into working out, some days I find it hits me harder than expected.  So as I lay listening to the kids getting ready for school (my kids are teenagers and it’s not often I get to lie in) I started to procrastinate.

I needed a shower, but there seemed no point before working out.  However I couldn’t be bothered with the idea of getting dressed to work out, to undress for a shower, to get redressed to go to work. (I volunteer in my local Barnardos donation centre on a Friday.)  Deep down I knew the way my head was going I’d get up, get dressed, make a coffee and start pottering around the house, avoiding the workout completely.

So my train of thought went to ‘I’ll grab a shower and workout tonight after work’.  Then I remembered that my daughter was having a friend over for the night, and I’d probably find more excuses to avoid my workout.  Especially when it’s the first time this friend has stayed over, and not been subjected to the swearing and grunting that accompanies me as I train.

At this point I realised it was now or never, so I dragged myself out of my bed and fell across the hallway to my gym.  I sleep naked, but I really didn’t care, there was only me in the house so who could complain?

Three sets into my first exercise I began to feel the burn and walked around the room in between sets to allow for a little recovery.  Problem is in every bedroom; one of which my gym is set up in, there are built-in wardrobes that have floor-to-ceiling mirrored doors.  My head was still not fully into the workout, and walking around meant I kept seeing myself in the mirror which wasn’t doing much for my mood.

It was then I stopped dead and stood looking at myself.  Yes; my breasts sag; and my belly hangs so low it looks like I’m wearing an apron, but I started to notice other things.  My arms don’t jiggle when I move, they’re not really defined, but I don’t suffer with saggy batwing underarm skin.  My traps are noticeable as are my calves.  My thighs may be large; but again while there is fat, I can see the muscle beneath.  My glutes are quite tight too.

Then it hit me; despite how I feel about myself when I look in the mirror there are positive aspects to my body.  I also have a man from halfway around the world who is waiting for me, and has been waiting for a long time because he loves me.  He fell in love with me when I was at my largest and even though I am not happy with the way I look; the training and nutrition advice he gives me is because I want to change, not because he thinks I should.  After that I went back to the rest of my workout with a more positive attitude in my head.

strength

I’ve talked to a few people over the years in situations similar to mine, and put simply it seems there are two major factors that enable someone to change.  The first is knowledge, and knowledge can be learned.  No matter how you want to go about getting healthier (weight training, crossfit, swimming, martial arts, dieting), there is always someone you can find who will help tutor you.

The second is willpower, and this is the hard one.  Willpower is not a skill you pick up in class or that someone can teach you.  Willpower comes from within, it’s the mental strength you gain as you see progression and feel good about yourself, but it’s also the driving force that pushes you into action when the last thing you want to do is train.  It’s the inner strength you have to look beyond the negatives to keep going; because no-one else can change you, except you.

My knowledge has never been an issue (though I still have loads to learn), it’s my willpower allowing me to put my knowledge into actions that has always failed me.  Having Bill does help as he points out the positives when I’m blinded by my own darkness, but writing this blog I hope will also help me to stay positive and keep driving forward.  It’s not going to be easy; there’s no quick fix, but I’m a stubborn woman and I will succeed because I want to.

How selling a fridge changed everything

Motivation can come from unexpected places

A couple of weeks ago I was starting to try to get back into my training.  I’m lucky in the fact I have my own home gym I have built up over the past few years, so really there is no excuse not to workout.  However; while I had an adequate setup (squat rack, adjustable bench, 400kg + in weight plates and bars) it was all standard sized gear which meant the bars only came in at 5-7kg, and I was sadly lacking in plates over 10kg.

I also lack room space, so I decided to have a shift around to see if I could get a better arrangement that would free up floor space for things like hip thrusters.  This ended up with me having a larder fridge that was just not going to fit anywhere in the house, and that’s where my fun began.

I sold the fridge, and while looking for a undercounter replacement I spotted a 6ft Olympic bar and an Olympic ezi curl bar along with a couple of 5kg weights on my local secondhand site.  Had a bit of negotiation to drop the price by £25 and the following day I was the proud owner of my first olympic gear.

That night I spotted another ad for Olympic weight plates.  Again a little negotiation and a few days later I’m sat in my driveway with a van full of oly plates ranging from 1.25kg up to 25kg and a weight tree to store them on.  At this point I’m looking at my front door knowing I’ve got to carry the damn things up a flight of stairs to the gym (my house is on the second floor) and thinking to myself I really am crazy.

olympic-plate-tree
The kind of tree I don’t mind in the house

Quite proud of myself though because I managed to do farmer’s walks up the stairs with the 25kg plates as well as all the smaller ones.  Even better I sold a good two-thirds of my standard gear (I kept a selection of smaller plates for the dumbbell bars as I havent got olympic ones yet) for more than I paid out for the olympic stuff.  Still haven’t got a new fridge yet though….

Anyway this is under the workout category and having the new gear has helped to motivate me again.  I’m going to be aiming for 4 workouts a week and I’m using the DAPRE method on some exercises to get me back into the swing of things.  Despite having not trained properly for a good few months and gaining weight I’m actually still pretty strong…for me anyway.

Today hit a personal record of 90kg for hip thrusters and my bench press is back to 50kg.  Still working on my squat and hopefully will get to deadlifting eventually.  That’s one exercise I struggle with, so have been doing RDLs to try to help.

Where to begin…

Welcome to my journey

It’s hard to know where to begin; but I guess I’m just looking for a new way to give myself some accountability, and also to remind myself that despite setbacks over the last 18 months I’m not where I once was.

Around 2010 I was morbidly obese with multiple health issues.  I weighed in at over 180kg, suffered with depression and had major family issues going on.  A broken marriage, three kids (two of who have varying autistic disabilities), a poor support network and no idea of how to drag myself out of the darkness I was living in.

birthday
Yup this was me; despite the smile on my face I was dying inside

Fast forward to today.  A lot happened over the past seven years; too much to put in here as my first post, but it will get touched upon over time.  The basic gist though revolves around meeting a guy (Bill); who despite living halfway round the world from me, has cajoled, sweet talked and busted my butt as he taught me to believe in myself and my abilities.

I could lie and say it’s been all open roads and plain sailing, but I won’t.  In all honesty it has been up and down over sleeping policemen, slamming into potholes, navigating diversions and hitting road closures.  The biggest hurdle being around 18 months ago when; despite the fact I’d just reached double digits (coming in just under 100kg) a multitude of issues saw me spiral back into my darkness, losing my way yet again.

Now I’m sat kicking myself; fluctuating around 125kg, cursing the fact that there are times I just can’t control my headspace.  It’s not all bad though.  Bill has been beside me all this time; and keeps believing in me, even when I can’t.  Now I’m ready to get back into the game and this blog is part of that.

Oh just to clarify; while I may speak about my weight, the reality is I have no target weight to aim for and I don’t believe in dieting.  I weight train and try to ensure my food choices reflect the lifestyle I want to aim for.  My journey is about body recomposition and a healthy lifestyle; not weight targets, fad diets or quick fixes.