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Monday, 30 November 2015

Goal Setting

Went to Sussex for the weekend to see family  so managed to eat FAR too much! I wen't with good intentions and took my gym gear so I could go for a run. This is a huge thing as I HATE running. I did eventually get out of the house on Friday though, and I don't think I did too bad...

2.88 miles in 32 mins 51 secs.. I'm happy with that for my first go. All of Gibbon Road is downhill and the bit to the sea was flat so I think that helped my time, although the last part was up over the cliffs and the wind was just unreal, over half of that last section I couldn't run... I could barely stand up!! But at least I did it!

We also went to see my Step-sister and brother in law. He's well into the Gym and is built like a brick shit house! He gave me a magazine on weight training etc. It was a free one that came with his gym supplements so mainly full of advertising. However there was one article in there about goal setting which made me think....

I write things down, obviously, look at my blog! So, what are my goals. They're quite simple really, to be toned and fit cardio wise. They're pretty broad goals though aren't they.

Therefore I think the 3 main things I am going to work on are:

  • Improving my swimming time.

I have been spending more time in the gym rather than the swimming pool but I do like my swimming. I am still doing my 66 lengths but never really seem to improve on time. My best time seems to be the most recent of 50 min 43 secs. so the goal is to reduce that to 45mins. The second part of the goal is to mix it up stroke wise. I always do breast stroke so I want to do at least 10 laps in front crawl - which is how I hope to improve the time!
  • Run 5 miles.
OMG... I dunno why I am saying that! I will most probably do it on a tredmill rather than actually go for a run but I should try and actually do it on the ground. I have worked out that round the block twice (like the big block not literally my street) is more or less 5 miles. Or maybe ill find another route which is actually 5 miles so I don'e have to look at the same things twice! 

Ok so thats the cardio more than sorted. So I guess my next goal should be weight related. This is a lot more difficult........

  • Shoulder press 25kg, 5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Arm curl 25kg, 5 sets of 12 reps
The shoulder press (machine) is really difficult! I think so anyway. Most of the machines I am on weights of between 25-35kg but the shoulder press the most I have managed have been 12.5kg (reps of 6) and even with that I struggle. Though, in all fairness a month ago I could barely lift 5-10kg. The arm curl is probably more achievable, I managed 5 sets of 6 reps and 15kg - That being the first time I have taken that machine seriously. We'll see how I get on. 

To be honest with the weights it is really difficult to set a goal as such because I just try and improve a little each time I go, either by the weight I am lifting or by the amount of sets and reps I manage. This is working for me so far. Though, I don't feel that I am gaining in terms of body shape as much as I want to. But I am biding my time...

In my last post I talked about the diet side of things. My protein powder came just before we went away so today was the first time I used it. I had it as part of my morning smoothie; mixed with a banana, kiwi, oats and coconut water - it was AMAZING!! Post-gym I just mixed it was water as your meant to and it was good still - but was so much better with the other stuff in it. With having two shakes and a gammon steak for dinner this is what I have managed with my macro intakes

A huge improvement but still not quite there. I am much happier with that though. Now to search for more ways to improve the protein intake and reduce the carbs! There must be loads of ways I just haven't found them yet!!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Trying to understand gym life...

So it's been nearly two months since I first joined the gym and so far I am enjoying it! I have been averaging 3 visits a week and have also started doing some of the fitness classes too. I still get up in the morning and really can't be bothered but once I get there I do really enjoy it!

I have lost about 5lb since the start, which for 8 weeks is isn't the quickest ever but my progress photo (LOL) shows the real change and I don't think it's just weight loss (wishful thinking)... I think there is a little more muscle in there too....

To be fair when that photo was taken I had only lost 2lb on the scales too so I was pretty chuffed with myself.

However, since that picture I have lost more weight but very little gain muscle wise. I have definitely improved my cardio ability though. When I first started I could barely run on the treadmill for 5 minutes. The week before last, I survived 15 minutes and last week 25 minutes!!

From the bare minimum I have read so far, it looks like muscle gain for women is difficult, and much of the work is done outside of the gym. I have started to make small changes in regards to my diet and I have continued to calorie count. But it's not gone much further than that so far. I have mainly concentrated on the calories and nothing else.

I brought myself a smoothie maker and have regularly been having a smoothie for breakfast. I usually skip breakfast. And fruit. So it's a start.

This has been particularly useful when I am at work and fab for my fruit intake because before I could literally go a week or more without touching any! On my days off I'll keep just myself busy until mid afternoon and then feast on carbs of varying types - usually bread or pasta. I get that far though the day with a steady intake of coffee, or tea. I will then stuff my face at dinner time and then sit on my bum until bed.

Work days are usually worse. I get through the morning on tea and maybe a slice of toast mid morning and pick on any naughty foodstuffs that are on the table. This usually comprises of pastries, chocolates and bagels. If I get chance to have lunch at lunch time then that's a bonus but usually it's not until 3pm or later. I then get home at about 8.45pm, have whatever meal Scott has lovingly cooked me and head straight to bed. Always nice food but far too close to bed!

So onto the point of this post; the gathering of useful information to try and boost my training. So here goes....


CARBOHYDRATES! I love them!! Oh My God.... I need to cut down on them, I completely and utterly live on carbs. To be honest I also thought that this was fine despite most advice out there to reduce carb intake. A few years ago I followed slimming world, their red and green days, but only ever did green days as found them much more filling and easier meal wise. I lost plenty of weight. 

It appears that not all carbs are bad though. basically you want to use the carbs you eat for energy rather than store them as fat. On advice, I ate oats before my workout today. Another website also recommends that eating carbs after a workout is good to replace glycogen levels in the body... Now I am a bit confused. Basically, I understand it that carbs are good but in moderation as too many will just be stored as fat.

MyFitnessPal gives you a breakdown of your macro intake which is pretty cool.. Makes you more aware of what food groups your eating and the reality of how balanced your diet really is. Mine isn't.

This is my breakdown for the last 7 days. Blue is carbs... too many carbs! The goals from this screenshot are a bit skewed because It's showing data from the last week, and I only changed my macro goals today. They were on 40-30-30% (carbs,fat,protein). After reading into it a bit more, it appears that the better breakdown is 30-30-40%. My fat levels seem to be pretty much on target. I can work on 1% anyway. 

The other difficulty is going to be increasing the protein intake. I have been interested by these protein supplements you can buy but do feel very nervous about them. It seems a bit extreme. Also, there is sooo much to choose from?! How to I know what I need?! This evening I consciously tried to bulk up on the protein. Even with a shed load of chicken in my curry I only managed 23% and still 54% carbs. GRRR!!!!! 

Protein (yes, talking about protein again) is important as it helps with tissue growth and repair. That's what you hear most of. I am now learning that protein replaces the amino acids that are lost during training. If they aren't readily available in your blood steam then that's when the body will eat at muscle.... Read on.

So whilst writing this post, I have taken the plunge and brought some Whey Protein from Bulk Powders. They get alright reviews on Amazon and seem to be quite cheap.. I'll let you know how I get on. Might be a waste of money but I want a six pack, a round bum and fit arms!


Apparently excessive cardio isn't a good thing. Shame really as I feel like I am getting somewhere with the cardio. It is suggested that more than 45 minutes at a steady state or 30 minutes high intensity interval training is too much for the average person. I have heard of HIIT  but haven't ventured that far yet. I assume that the cardio I have been doing is steady. I usually do around 45mins, depending on how energetic I am feeling. This site suggests that becoming catabolic means that the body breaks down muscle for energy rather than using fat stores or recently eaten meals. I guess that's another reason for eating breakfast before working out.

So it's good that I have increased my fruit intake and am now eating breakfast more right? I always knew fruit had lots of sugar in but apparently I should be careful of that! However (hurrah!), it does appear that bananas a excellent pre-workout foods because they are rich in digestible carbohydrates and potassium which maintains nerve ans muscle function. Oats are also on this list, result! Another defending piece of evidence for my smoothie fettish is that fruit and greek yogurt are great pre-workout foods! It's claimed that the protein from yogurt isn't broken down quickly enough for the workout but the carbs from the fruit provide immediate energy and the protein kicks in later for muscle repair.

I have some food for thought now (pardon the pun)...
  1. Cut the carbs down, but not out.
  2. Don't skip breakfast - specially before a workout
  3. Improve my protein intake.
I think my next research based blog post needs to concentrate on meal ideas. Mainly lunch times I think. I can often get an acceptable about of variation in my evening meal but It's lunchtime  that I tend to just fall back on carbs. More salads for me it seems!


Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Magic Border

I have been taking lots of photo's for ages and ages now with the intention of blog blog blogging. But I just haven't seemed to have time to actually sit down and write my posts! I am at the beginning of a weeks annual leave now and thought that I would take to opportunity to catch up.

Despite time and motivation, I had quite a slow start to the year vegetable growing wise. Everything was stunted, either being eaten by the pesky slugs or failure to get established. after sewing seeds then planting out plenty of veggies which lost their battle; I finally had some luck when my onion seedlings finally took a hold in my border by the patio.

Look at the size of them!!! Not bad even if I do say so myself! They were planted in the same border that my tomatoes were in last year, These bad boys were by far my best achievement this year. We have left them to dry out a bit but as we ran out of brought onions, we have started using them already. Apart from being a bit potent on the old eyes, they are pretty much perfect tasting. So far they are keeping pretty well too.

My tomatoes were a bit of a flop this year. Got enough for a few batches of soup but weren't nearly as prolific as last year and I had about 3 times as many plants this year.

I also had mixed results with the broccoli and cauliflower. Two main reasons many of them didn't thrive; one, because I planted them all too close together and two, because I failed to protect them and ended up having a constant fight with the caterpillars! Another garden enemy to add to the list!

As you can see the cucumbers were good too. They certainly liked my new greenhouse anyway! They were probably our favourite as certainly throughout the summer, we tend to eat lots of them with salads. They were so much better tasting then brought ones too! I also had sprouts planted but I finally gave up on them today and pulled them up as they were just far too damaged by the slugs. Shame really as I love a good sprout!

Oh well, the ups and downs of gardening... Wish me luck for next year!