Monday, 30 January 2012

Ban the scales aka BMI is Bulls**t - a Thinking Slimmer update

It's been a while since I posted about my Thinking Slimmer progress. I am still listening to my Slimpods most nights of the week. While I feel that my relationship with food has changed completely I am very much aware that as my training steps up a gear I am likely to get more hungry and that could be a trigger for me to start eating more than I need to. I know that as long as I listen to my pods on a regular basis that won't happen.

So over 8 months into my Thinking Slimmer journey how much weight have I lost now? The honest answer is that I don't know and I don't care. I haven't weighed myself in weeks and I have no intention of doing so anytime soon. I have banned the scales!

So what has caused me to fall out of love with the previous measure of my slimming success that I have held so dear for so many years?

Quite simply because they have the power to change the way I feel when I step on them and most of the time it's not been in a positive way. I refuse to give them that power any longer.

I started Thinking Slimmer back in May 2011 and since July I've been measuring myself once every month or so. In the last 8 months I have lost a total of 16.2 inches across the whole of my body, including a whopping 5.5 inches from my tummy. That's a lot of inches and means that I've lost nearly 2 dress sizes.
Despite the fact that I have been getting smaller there have been months gone by when the scales have not moved at all. There are lots of reasons why this might be the case but it's probably mostly explained by my increased muscle mass due to all the exercise I've been doing.

Even though I can feel my clothes getting looser and that my wardrobe now contains lots of clothes in smaller sizes, stepping on the scales still had the ability to make me feel like I wasn't making any progress.

The final straw came just after Christmas. I'd weighed myself and was pleased to see that I'd not gained any weight over Christmas but was still not happy with the number that I saw looking back at me. For some reason I decided to calculate my BMI and was horrified to find that despite all the inches I've lost that I am still classified as obese on the BMI scALE.

Yes that's me, in the picture on the right, wearing a size 14 dress and classified as not just overweight but obese.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't look at that photo and see a slim person yet - I still want to lose more inches and will be happy once I've lost another dress size. But to be classified as obese is just wrong in my opinion. No wonder so many women in this country have body image issues.

So that was it for me and the scales. They went in the cupboard and they're not coming out again. It's all about the inch loss for me now. I have just ordered my 'target dress' in a size 12 and although it won't fit me just yet it will by the time we go on holiday in June. Thanks to Thinking Slimmer I can say that with confidence.

That's a better feeling than any number on a set of scales could ever give me.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Week 6 done and I'm a third of the way through!

I'm going to start with a confession. I had a bit of a wobble last weekend. After my really tough long run, which was 10 miles I started to question how on earth I was ever going to run 26.2. I could really easily have given up after 8 miles last week, my legs were totally done for and I just started to have real doubts that I could do this.

After this weekend my long runs go into double figures and don't come back down again until a week before the marathon, things are going to get much tougher from here. I think that was also playing on my mind. Up until now the plan has been territory I have covered before, I knew that I could do the distances as I'd done them during training for the Great South Run. As of next week it's all new territory. Part of that is exciting but it's also pretty daunting.

I've got over it though. Partly by thinking back to the time before the Great South Run when I'd only run a 5K and thought that running 10 miles was a huge challenge. I remembered that I'd completed that by sticking to a training plan and adding miles steadily week on week, just like I'm doing at the moment. I also remembered that I have actually completed a marathon before, albeit a walking one that took me a very long time but I know I can do the distance, I know how far it is - it's a long way but it is achievable.

So positive, determined Becca is back and I've just completed week 6 of my London Marathon training plan and taken my total mileage over the 100 mile mark. It's only 12 weeks to go until the big day and I'm a third of the way through my training. How did that happen?!

This week has been more difficult logistically as I've had to travel with work but I've moved things around and still stuck to the plan. This week is a step back week in the plan meaning that the long run mileage is shortened. This has been shown to be a good thing to do to allow the body to recover a little bit and prepare for the mileage increase in the following weeks.

Monday started with a Core Flow yoga class - a great way to start the week but boy is it challenging! This week, amongst other postures saw me holding plank pose on my hands for a number of minutes and balancing on my 'sit bones' with my feet in the air trying to stretch my legs out in front of me - just like the woman in the picture, ahem. Dignified? Absolutely not! Effective work out for my core - you bet.

I didn't realise quite how effective it had been until I was running on Tuesday night. I joined the ladies for Boutique Running Club again and we ran the outer circle of Regent's Park again. I started off well and was really pleased with my pace for the first couple of miles. Then, I started to get cramp - not the usual kind that I get which I can stretch or breathe away. This felt much deeper in my core and almost like a belt around my middle - obviously the muscles that I'd worked on Monday morning complaining about being put through their paces again. I had to slow down and walk to get rid of it which was annoying but it went away and I was able to start running again.

My usual Wedensday run was swapped for a rest day as I had to travel with work and running just wasn't feasible. So I decided to run home from work on Thursday. I really enjoyed this run, I managed to finish work before it got dark so the first half of the run was in the light which was lovely. It's runs like these that make me realise how much has changed for me in the last 9 months - I used to look at people running to/from work and think they were crazy people - now I'm one of them and enjoying it!

Friday morning was intervals with AudioFuel - I tried their pyramid session this week which is shorter but much more intense than the 3 step ones I had done before. I remembered to wear my heart rate monitor this time and it was interesting to look at the trace when I got home - clearly a very good way to raise and lower my heart rate!

So today has involved my last short-ish long run. Just 7 miles today in distinctly colder than it has been weather. It was a steady run into The City which was very quiet and somewhere I'll revisit in the weeks ahead. I was pleased the colder air didn't seem to affect my asthmatic lungs at all and despite a few stops and starts to cross the road I was pleased with the steady pace I kept.

So as of next week things get serious. The midweek run increases to 6 miles and I'll be breaking new territory with a 12 mile run on Sunday. I'm now feeling quite excited about the prospect. 12 weeks today I will run the London Marathon 2012. I will do it and I will enjoy it!

Miles this week = 18.45

Total miles so far = 104.76

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Week 5 - Done

So here I am at the end of week 5 of my London Marathon training. This week has consisted of 4 runs and two yoga sessions and has seen my weekly mileage tip over the 20 mile mark for the first time.

I started the week with Glow Yoga again, doing the Core Flow and Foundation classes on Monday and Tuesday mornings. In both classes we got into some poses which were brilliant for stretching out my muscles which were complaining a bit after the 9 miles last Sunday.

On Monday night I made a purchase which I'd been thinking about for a while. I popped into Runner's Need on the way home to pick up some energy gels and while I was there I bought a pair of compression tights.

I've read quite a lot about these and how they are supposed to help with recovery after long runs. They fit very tightly on the leg and are designed to help the blood flow back to your heart and are supposed to reduce muscle fatigue. Since I've had my new trainers my calves have been feeling very tight, despite a lot of stretching so I thought I would invest in these and see if they helped. More about this later.

Tuesday night saw me out with the lovely ladies from Boutique Sport for the Boutique Running Club. This time we ran the Outer Circle of Regent's Park - a 4.2 mile loop. I really enjoy running with other people, it always challenges me to run a bit quicker than I would normally. I was delighted when I got home and downloaded my stats from my Garmin and found that I had done consecutive sub 11 min miles. This is a first for me and it shows that I am really improving.

Wednesday morning saw me up and out in the dark for my interval session. This is another part of my training which I've come to enjoy. It was tough on my legs this week having run over 4 miles the night before so I think I'll move this to a Thursday from now on to make sure I get the most out of it. Thursday this week ended up being a rest day as I was really tired from the back to back sessions on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. When I got back from work on Thursday night this had arrived

My running number for the Brighton Half Marathon which is now only 4 weeks away. My first half marathon in just four weeks. It's amazing really, this time last year I wouldn't have thought that it would be possible for me to be running a half marathon. Fast forward a year and I'm now viewing it as part of in my training, an opportunity to run in another race and most importantly - just the half way mark!

I worked from home on Friday which allowed me to go out at lunchtime for a very gentle 3 miler. It was nice to run at a different time of day and to take it easy on my legs. This week I had decided to change my weekend around a bit and do my long run on Saturday. I wanted to try out a route that I'd been planning for a while, running under the Greenwich foot tunnel into Greenwich park. I also decided that I'd try a different running strategy. When I met up with Dawn last week she told me that she'd found that by running slower she was able to keep going and not need to take walking breaks. I thought I'd give this a go and see what happened for me.

So I set out in my new compression tights and did a few miles around my usual area before heading down to Island Gardens to the Greenwich foot tunnel. I actually really struggled with the slower pace, it felt unnatural to me and harder on my legs for some reason. I will go back to my usual 9mins running, 1 min walking on my long run next week.

When I got to the foot tunnel I had to walk down some spiral stairs and then through the tunnel under the river. There were a lot of people about and it was difficult to dodge past them all so I decided to walk through the tunnel rather than run. When I got to the other end it was back up some spiral stairs and out into Greenwich right by the Cutty Sark.

Running through Greenwich town centre was about as easy as running on the Southbank! Lots of people about and lots of crossings to navigate so I was glad to get to the park and some open space. Open space and a really big hill. Obviously I know that Greenwich Park is really hilly, I thought it would be a good challenge for me. What I hadn't accounted for was just how hard it would be to get myself up that hill on legs which had already run 5 miles and which are unaccustomed to hill work. The running became power walking pretty quickly! The hard work was worth it though, there are some great views of London from the top.

After stopping to take these photos I then made my way back down again back through the tunnel and across the river. By this point my legs were screaming at me to stop, my pace had really slowed and at one point I seriously considered jumping on the DLR to get me home. But of course I didn't. I walked for a bit to let my legs recover and then found that I had enough energy to pick up the pace a bit for the final mile. 10 hard miles complete, the furthest I've run since October - I was very glad to be home.

So, did the compression tights make any difference? I always stretch well after a run and yesterday was no different. I also have a recovery milkshake as soon as I get back into the flat. Despite both of these things I usually have some kind of muscle soreness the day after a long run and recently that has especially been the case with my calves. So imagine my surprise to wake up this morning with no soreness in my calves at all, slight tightness in my quads from the hills but other than that my legs are feeling good. Amazing after how they felt yesterday! I walked around a lot yesterday afternoon after my run so that might also have helped my recovery, but for now the tights get a big thumbs up from me.

So that's it week 5 complete. Next week is a step back week in my training plan and I think my body will thank me for it!

Weekly mileage - 21.01 miles

Total mileage - 86.31 miles

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Week 4 and the first month complete!

There is part of me that still can't quite believe I'm writing this. I've just completed week 4 of my London Marathon training! This week has consisted of 4 runs and 2 yoga classes and another painful trip to my osteopath/masseur.

I started the week with a 7.30am Core Flow class at Good Vibes Glow Yoga. This was a pretty tough start to the week. My core strength needs some work and this class tested it to the maximum. The teacher, Choi, is brilliant. Really supportive and friendly, you're never made to feel stupid if you can't get into a pose or hold it for long, just encouraged to do what you can. I'm going to make this particular class part of my regular routine as I know it's one that will really do me good.

Tuesday started with another yoga class. This time a Foundation class with Nahid, the owner of Good Vibes and the founder of Glow Yoga. I love coming to these classes, Nahid is a fantastic teacher and brings humour to the class - something I've not associated with yoga before. This class was at a much slower pace but encourages you to think about your alignment. We held a lot of the poses for longer than in other classes which made it quite challenging, in a different way. I'm so glad I've found Glow Yoga - I'm really enjoying it.

Tuesday evening saw the return of Boutique Running Club which is now starting from the Good Vibes studio in Fitzrovia. We did a 5K run from the studio up to Regent's Park and around the Inner Circle - this was a lot better than dodging tourists in Covent Garden as we used to do. It was great to see the Boutique ladies again and particularly good to catch up with Dash who is running the Brighton half and full marathons this year. We exchanged stories of Christmas and New Year training, compared new trainers and swapped stretching tips to avoid the various niggles that we're both experiencing. Next week we're doing the Outer Circle of Regent's Park which will be about a 7K run. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday morning was interval morning. The plan said I needed to run 4 miles so I did the interval session with Audio Fuel and then a recovery mile at the end. Although the fastest intervals are tough I really enjoy these sessions now, the coaching on the tracks is great and the time just flies past. The other thing that made this session so good was the absolutely beautiful sunrise that I saw on the way home. Just stunning!

Thursday morning was a gentle 3 mile run. I decided to run this easy as my legs were feeling tired, this is often the case by my Thursday run. I was really pleased to get home and find out that it was my fastest run on a Thursday since I started marathon training. Progress!

Friday was a rest day and time for another trip to my osteopath/sports masseur. My calves have been very tight since I've had my new trainers and orthotics - I am aware that my running gait has changed, hopefully for the better, but it's making my calves work in a way they're not used to. Most of the session was spent on some painful deep tissue massage - it's amazing how much lighter my calves felt afterwards. I've also been given some different stetches to do so hopefully this will start to resolve itself. It seems to be one thing after another at the moment!

My long run this week was 9 miles. I decided to do something a bit different and run into Central London rather than just around Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs. It was a beautiful sunny day but very cold. I went out in my new running Tee from Run Rabbit which I thought was particularly appropriate for the run.
The route took me past Tower Bridge, through the City to St Pauls, up Fleet Street to Aldwych, up the Strand to Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch and past Horseguards along the bottom of St James' Park, over Westminster Bridge and past Big Ben and then back along the Southbank before crossing Southwark Bridge and making my way back to Tower Bridge and then home. What a great route! I'd not taken into account the amount of times I would need to stop to cross the road at traffic lights, or the number of tourists that I'd need to dodge, so it took me longer than I would have liked. However, it's the farthest I've run since the Great South Run back in October and it felt good to get this kind of distance back in my legs.

So that's it - week 4 and the first month complete. 5 weeks until the Brighton Half Marathon and just 14 weeks until the Virgin London Marathon 2012!

Miles this week = 19.1

Total milage so far = 65.3

Sunday, 8 January 2012

London Marathon Training - Week 3 - Done!

So here I am at the end of my third week of training. And once again, overall I've enjoyed it. This week was a step back week in the plan, my long run being a comparatively short 5 miles. As we had an extra day off work this week I took the opportunity to mix up my days a bit and fit in some extra cross training. More of that later

Monday was a beautiful sunny day in London so I decided to go out and do the 4 mile run which was in my plan for Wednesday. I decided to run a different route and head through Wapping to Tower Bridge. I have run this way once before when I was training for the Great South Run and had forgotten about the cobbled streets and frequent kerbs to negotiate. I spent most of my time concentrating on where I was putting my feet but really enjoyed the run all the same. Hard not to when you get rewarded with a view like this at the halfway point

Tuesday became a non-running day but I went to a Glow Yoga class in the morning before work. The warm studio with it's SAD lighting is such a lovely place to start your day. I really do enjoy these classes.

On Wednesday I did an interval session before work. I used my Audio Fuel download again but upped the fastest interval to 180. I found this more challenging than before but actually really enjoyed the session. It was good to mix things up and run at different speeds. I really don't enjoy getting up to go out and run in the dark, but I left it late enough that the sun was coming up as I got home and was rewarded with this view for my efforts

On Thursday morning I had an appointment with my osteopath. It's still early days for my orthotics but the combination of them and my new trainers seem to be helping, the pain in my calves has lessened which is good. However, my calves are very tight and so he spent most of the session doing deep tissue massage on that area. Painful doesn't even being to describe it but my legs felt lighter afterwards.

On Thursday afternoon I went to a Powerplates session at Good Vibes, the same studio where I do Glow Yoga. I use this as part of my strength training - it's a brilliant 25min workout that targets all your main muscle groups. I followed this up with another Glow Yoga session, this time one especially for runners and cyclists. It was a challenging, fast moving session but we got into some brilliant stretches for areas that are often a problem in runners - hip flexors and hamstrings for example. One of my favourite poses is pigeon as shown in the picture below

Difficult to get into and very challenging for anyone with tight hip flexors but as you sit in the pose you can feel things loosening up. My flexibility is not particularly great and going to these classes will really help me develop in that area I'm sure.

On Friday morning I got up early again to do another 3 mile session. My legs felt tired so I took is slowly and ran easy. On my way home I was once again rewarded with a brilliant view of the sun coming up over the City

Saturday was a well earned rest day and today I have been out to do my 5 miles. I was very tired after a disturbed night's sleep and really didn't feel in the mood for it at all today. But out I went and it was OK, a bit of a slog but it's done.

Next week the mileage climbs again, 9 miles next Sunday which will be the furthest I've run since the Great South Run in October. My running club starts up again on Tuesday and I'm looking forward to that too. Bring on week 4!

Mileage this week = 15.2 miles

Total mileage so far = 46.2 miles

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Marathon training - Week Two - Complete

So here I am at the end of week two of my marathon training plan. This week has felt easier than last week, perhaps because I've been off work and I've not had to drag myself out of bed to run in the dark. Or maybe my body is back in the groove of running four times a week. Whatever it is, it's felt easier which can only be a good thing.

This week has been four runs and a Glow Yoga class. I tried interval running again for one of those runs and actually enjoyed it, I'll make it part of my weekly plan from now on. I've also now got my orthotics which I wore on my long run yesterday. They seem to have helped in that I don't have the pain in my legs that I did last week so fingers crossed they are sorting that problem out.

My long run this week was 7 miles. I ran it slow and steady, for some reason I didn't really get into my running groove at all, some days are just like that. The weather in London has been so mild that I was actually warm in my long sleeved top and could have got away with short sleeves - on December 31st!

On Friday I bought some new trainers. My current trainers have done around 350 miles and the cushioning is starting to wear down. My plan is to alternate the two pairs until I have to retire my current ones and then to use the new ones to run the marathon itself. The new ones are Brooks Ghost 4 and they are really comfortable to run in. I'm also secretly quite pleased because they match some of my running gear perfectly!

Next week is a step-back week in my plan. Every 3 weeks the total weekly mileage decreases to give your body a bit of a rest and prepare it for what is to come next. At this early stage of the plan I don't feel that I really need it, but I'm sure at later stages I will welcome these weeks.

Mileage this week = 16 miles

Total mileage so far = 31 miles

In with the new

The other day, Dawn, one of the people I've met through Thinking Slimmer wrote a post on her blog that I really liked. It was called a future pace - the concept being that you look forward to the end of 2012 and write down what will have happened. The idea is that by thinking about and writing down what you want to happen you are much more likely to make these things happen. So here is mine for 2012

* I completed the London Marathon. It was the most amazing day and an experience I'll never forget. I enjoyed it so much that I am considering running another marathon at some point in the future

* I beat my fundraising target for the marathon and have contributed to a charity that makes a real difference to my local community. I felt really good about that

* I reached my target size and know exactly what I need to do to stay here for the rest of my life

* We extended our tenancy agreement on the flat in Limehouse for another year. We're really happy here and are hoping to buy somewhere in the area in a year or so

* I finally left the Forensic Science Service after 14 years. I was sad to leave and see the company close but very proud to have worked there and of everything it achieved. I took away some very happy memories

* I took a couple of months off work. It was an opportunity that might never have presented itself again and one that I couldn't pass up.

* During that time my husband also took some time off work and we saw some more of the world. We had a fantastic time as always

* Having that time off really helped me to clear my head and think about what I want to do with the rest of my career. I now have a plan that I am putting into place

* The first part of this plan is the new role that I am now in. I am really enjoying it, it's allowing me to do the things I love and that I'm good at. It's a great environment for me

* I ran the Great South Run again and set a new personal best for 10 miles. I also took part in the Brighton Half Marathon and the BUPA 10K, my first races at those distances

* I celebrated my 3rd wedding anniversary with my husband. We have never been happier

Happy New Year everyone - may 2012 bring you everything you wish for.