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Week 1 Day 1 (C25K)

According to the progress wall on the App I made my first run on Sunday 15th November…

I was guilted into it as my neighbour Mrs 54 ran passed the back of the house whilst I was cleaning the kitchen and then stopped at the back door for a chat…

She had just been on her first run  “I texted you to see if you wanted to come but you didn’t reply”

“No, sorry, I’d already started cleaning the kitchen. I was planning to go later…”

Unfortunately this was said in front of witnesses and the Man chucked me out of the house at about 3.30pm saying “if you don’t do it now you will miss the light, it’ll be dark just after 4pm”

Good tactics on his part to be honest. He knows that I love walking down our lane at that time of day as the sky goes crepuscular. I get a wonderful surge of “hiraeth” (which is a welsh word with no English equivalent related to a feeling of home and belonging)… only really works though in the winter when the fields are bare, there’s a slight chill in the air and when I stand on top of the hill looking back towards the village I can see the welcoming twinkle of lights and I know that within 10 minutes I can be back inside being hugged by the warmth of our house…

So I set off… with the phone pressed to my ear as I didn’t want to use headphones in case of traffic (there are no pavements, it’s a countryroad) and I didn’t know where the volume control was on my phone (the Boy, in a stereotypical children are better at technology than adults way, showed me where it was a couple of weeks later).

Walking briskly as I didn’t want to start running whilst on an uphill stretch (because that would send me straight back home) I headed out of the village…and then… I ran…

Imagine the sound of a hundred hippos galloping across concrete and you get the idea but. I. Actually. Ran…

And then collapsed on the sofa… but not until over half an hour later.

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Drop a Jeans size  aka PT on steroids

 Today was the first session of a small group training programme at our gym called “Drop a Jeans size”. I signed up for it the same time I joined the gym.  It is a 6 week programme of Hiit cardio exercises involving a goup of about 6-8 people…

When I turned up there were about 4 people including me…we were joined the following week by a 5th person but by the 3rd week one of the original attendees had also dropped out so, a small select group!

The majority of the group were slender and fit, one of them turned up everyweek in a T-shirt advertising the fact she’d been in this half marathon or that… they all looked as if their jeans already fitted. Fortunately I was not alone, there was 1 other lady of a curvy persuasion…

It was a HARD session. Seriously hard. Even the fit ones in the group were struggling. The trainer Dave laughed at me with my nose to the floor having failed to even pull off one press up and said it was “PT on steroids”

At the end of the session I felt drained and pretty much collapsed into a long hot bath on reaching home, staying there until I felt I had enough energy to drag myself out again and onto the sofa…god knows how I made it up the stairs later.

I then found it difficult to walk for the next 2 days and the pains only really stopped the following Monday when it was time to do it all over again.

I was definitely bottom of class… not least because after a hard day at work my brain just cannot do co-ordination on those exercises that have your arms doing one thing and your legs another… to add to this Dave was one of those instructors who almost immediately went on to show you a variation “if you want to nudge it up a bit you could try this…or if you struggle with both of these you could try the easier option…” Leaving my poor work drained brain not knowing what I was meant to be doing.

Now I could spend the next 6 weeks detailing how I got on with this programme but that would be quite dull because pretty much every week was the same just different exercises and different length intervals. We came in, we warmed up, Dave tortured us for 55 minutes and then we staggered home… it was hard and draining.

There was also an on-line training programme which went with it, which I gave my best shot so 3 sessions a week in total but none as hard as the Monday night.

I managed quite well for about 4 weeks despite struggling through a chest infection for every session after the first one. On the 5th week I probably over did it on the warm up and at the less than half way stage where he announced  “11, that means you have another 9 exercises to do… and then we do it all again”  I realised I hadn’t enough in me to even make it to the end of the first 20 minute interval and walked out…

Week 6 I realised when I got home that I felt even worse than I had the previous week and just didn’t go.

Does this count as having failed the course… no I don’t think so. I think if I hadn’t been ill with the chest infection for most of November and December I would have finished but in fact did quite well considering my state of health. So I am going to mark this as completed (rather than pass or fail) and maybe sign up to do the course again next time they run it.

By missing the final session it means I didn’t get the final measuring session so have no idea whether it made any difference. I think possibly I have moved from the “almost size 18” into squarely in the “size 16 jeans” (UK women sizing)…

Progress. But still a long way to go.


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Bend stretch repeat but with different results

This has been a bit of a mixed week to be honest. I had Spin Class at the start of the week and I just went for it and did my best despite the fact that I seem to have a bit of a niggle on my left leg.

I kept up pretty much but I am still not very happy at the parts of the session where we have to stand in our pedals. Standing on pedals is something I did quite a lot when cycling as a kid as Malvern where I grew up was pretty hilly but Warwickshire where we live  now has rolling countryside and most of the hills round us can be tackled sitting…

Having felt quite energised and motivated Tuesday night the following day I found myself phoning up for an impromptu day off having had an appalling nights sleep… possibly due to indigestion

I was also feeling at a low ebb. I felt paralysed and lacking in the energy to do anything. I couldn’t bring myself to knit or sew and I just felt that I was getting nowhere; the weight just wasn’t shifting no matter how hard I tried.

I felt in Limbo

Thursday it was back down to Banbury for Barre Fit and my mood was still pretty low. I felt like an elephant amongst gazelles, clumsy and uncoordinated..Probably wearing grey didn’t help things!

The Friday morning was the opposite of Wednesday. I felt tired but in a good way. The word that sprang to mind was ethereal as though my mind was free from clutter…

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Not a Lights Review

I have some photos to add to this post but for some reason wordpress is not co-operating this evening

I recently purchased some new bike lights having been persuaded by a colleague that my set up was pretty poor – yes I was legal but if I ever got caught in the dark I would not necessarily be safe.

Fortunately he also had some ideas about what sort of lights would make me relatively safe without spending vast amounts…

“Of course if you decide that you like cycling in the dark then you may want to upgrade”

Colleague 3 from some weeks ago (now my Guru) favours Exposure as does colleague 2 because they have a good “burn time” i.e. generally last for around 3 hours on max power, and are both powerful and robust. They have an internal battery so no wires or additional battery packs.  However you can he says end up spending several hundred pounds on one unit which at the end of the day is just a torch!

On the rear he uses a  Cateye LD1100  which he considers “about the best there is” and since it turned out to be cheaper than he had lead me to expect I went ahead and ordered one… I don’t want to take risks on the rear light. If I am going to be hit at night I suspect it is mostly likely to be from behind because someone hasn’t realised I am there so I have a catsye which I intend to mount quite high on the bike and a small one down by the drop outs.

Because I live out in the middle of nowhere with little street lighting I’ve opted for a budget bright light the  Brite-R® Uno II CREE XM-L T6 LED which gives me a lot of light for under £20.

However I was not particularly impressed by the quality as I had only just taken it out of the box when this happened.  Also there is a lot of faff involved as the battery  is separate and has to be detached and charged up inside with its own little charger so you end up with lots of wires and cables on the bike. However it can be mounted as a head torch or as a bike light on the front.

Now the reason that this is not a lights review…I haven’t used them yet. Not quite true I did use the Catseye in the dark when we went down the Stratford Greenway recently but the Cree I have only tried by walking down the road… which isn’t really the point, if I want to do that I can just take a torch with me.

I feel a bit embarrassed. Here am I 44 years old and too scared to go for a ride in the dark…. I have had these lights for almost a month you know (a month in real time – most blog posts I write a month later, this one happens to be real time for once)

I have recently been reading the blog of Bri at Bike Like Crazy… I feel even more embarrassed. Not only does she bike at night but bikes all through the winter at all hours of the day and night and weather conditions… with minimum journeys of 10 miles and here am I too scared to take a spin round the block as it were (4 miles).

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Called to the Barre

Thursday finds me tramping the dark mean streets of Bodicote a small village on the outskirts of Banbury. Council cuts means that there is hardly any street lights which is odd since the Council offices are located here.

It’s about 5 years possibly more since I was last here. It was for a planning appeal and we were starting to get a bit worried as the appeal was due to open and our barrister hadn’t arrived yet.  Suddenly my phone rings, it’s the barrister, she has broken down with a flat tyre and is waiting for the AA man. I head off in my car and finally find her down a little country lane that her SatNav had sent her. We agreed that I would wait for the AA man and she would take my car back to the Council Offices.  Eventually the AA man turns up and swaps the tyre over  (when you get your tyres changed at a garage they seem to super tighten the nuts which makes it very difficult to change especially if you are wearing high heels, tights and a business suit).

I now have the choice of sitting here until 4pm with the car or driving it back to Bodicote… the car is a Jaguar… this car is worth more than my annual salary… I have never been as scared in my life as I was sitting behind the wheel of that car.

I am feeling very similar now as I am about to walk into a room full of strangers… strangers who I soon discover are pretty much to a woman slim, fit and pretty. Next to them I feel like a beached whale…

But Sarah  the instructor is very nice and puts me at my ease telling me not to push myself if I don’t think I can…And then we are off… and boy is it intense.

I do my best to keep up but I am not sure my knees are up to it, all this holding of position… and then pulsing!  I thank whatever gods there are that I have been cycling regularly for the last 3-4 months otherwise I would be left far far behind.  The other problem is I don’t understand the jargon. I have vague memories from ballet lessons age 4… but I gave it up when it got serious and started talking about pile and 5th position…which is a shame as these are exactly the words Sarah has just used !

My best is not enough- these girls are fit and awesomely resilient. Towards the end I am clearly flagging but the end is a cool down and moves into some basic gym based fitness positions linked to yoga. I accidently learn what a “downward dog” being told when I am meant to be doing a plank “we are not on to downward dog yet”

At the end Sarah is reassuring that I am not as bad as I thought and that must of her ladies have been with her for several years…

And then it’s over and I am out into the dark mean streets of Bodicote once again.   At home I collapse on the sofa… but the pain that night is nothing compared to the pain the next day when I can hardly move, yet somehow I have to make my way to London for a meeting despite not being able to bend my legs without my muscles complaining.

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Episode 1: In which the Slug tries to go to the gym… with predictable consequences

So… on Friday night I joined the local leisure centre… because I get a discount due to the Boy’s swimming lessons and it means that I can now go swimming with or without the Boy without it costing money (5 swims and my membership is recouped)

Also it means I can cycle at night indoors all through the winter…

To be honest that pretty much fits my needs, a bit of cycling, some swimming and maybe the occasional Pilates class.

Anyway, they insisted that before I could use the facilities I had to attend the gym induction even if I had no intention of using it, in case I did accidently use it…as if !

As mentioned in my previous post, Saturday morning (whilst the Boy was slowly drowning by instruction) found me stood in the Gym next to a chunk of muscle called Alex who was explaining how it all works and talking me into a gym based training plan as he convinced me that the reason the cycling wasn’t causing me to lose weight was because I need to do some resistance based training to improve my muscles and get them burning the fat better…

I only have to do this twice a week for about 25 minutes with an optional 3rd visit which this week happens to be 30 minutes of swimming

Last night after dinner (having only had lettuce for lunch I suspected I’d pass out if I tried it before dinner) having left time for my digestion to work I headed the 5 miles over to the local leisure centre, turned into the car park, drove past the lit front window of the gym where you could see people pounding away on treadmills and stationary bikes…in fact there were a quite a few people in there, a lot of people, in fact it seemed to be heaving… and then kept driving past, out the car park and back home again…

Yep.. I bottled it… take 2 to follow… hopefully it’s quieter…

Tuesday I was all fired up. I was going to do it this time. I am a strong confident woman, I am going to be Queen of the treadmill… I am going to own that Gym…

However it took me some time to get to this point, the drive to work had me all wound up in a knot of anxiety about being such a feeble coward…

It was just before I left work for the day (in Reading) that I realised I had accidently booked myself in for the Group Cycling this evening instead of next Tuesday… and they charge you if you cancel within 4 hours of the booking (or just don’t turn up) and I am far too tight to incur additional costs…

So I went to Spin Class instead… this time with the computer… and although I can’t keep up with all the class do I held my own most of the time (and cycled over 10 miles at a sweaty rate)

But sadly I am still at this moment a gym virgin…still too scared to pop my weights cherry…

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Friday Night/Saturday Morning

So Friday night I bit the bullet and joined the gym at the local leisure centre. I was intending just to use it as a source of indoor cycling and the occasional bit of swimming.

Somehow though I find myself agreeing to come in 15 minutes earlier than I normally do on a Saturday (for the Boy’s swimming lesson) for Personal Goal Setting.

I have a cold so they can forget any idea of getting me to try any gym equipment. I am not going to allow them to talk me into anything but what I have decided I am going to do… exercise refusniks like me need to take things slowly thank you very much

Anyway I walk in and there is the sadistic instructor from last Tuesday… and then I find myself wondering around behind him watching him flex his muscles as he demonstrates how to use the equipment and somehow when I go back through the double doors to collect the Boy I find he has talked me in to doing a beginners training programme on the weights machine thingamabobs… apparently I need to do some resistance training

I don’t need training in resistance. I am very good at resistance… I have been resistant to the idea of exercise pretty much since joining secondary school…

A combination of my cold, a small hangover and the fact that my friend Wingnut was coming over later to drag my lardy ass all over the Warwickshire countryside geocaching meant I postponed the planned cycling. I’m in danger of postponing Sunday’s trip out too as the geocaching left me in pain for other reasons as my boots don’t fit…

This whole exercise lark is reminding me not to be complacent about good equipment and taking one’s time to ensure a good fit. My previous boots lasted 13 years and had been all over the world. Unfortunately they died last bank holiday when the sole came apart from the uppers…the ones I used today came from TKMax and are supposed to be technically superior which is no bloomin good if they are too narrow…

Talking about good fit. I now need to work out how to fit 3 sessions of gym based resistance training into a life already overstuffed with deadlines and commitments.

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Trial by Group Cycling

It takes all the courage I have to walk into a room of strangers, even a small room, when wearing exercise gear… small rooms called Judges chambers when wearing a suit no problem… even a lecture room full of 20-60 year olds I can manage if I’m either attending or the one giving the lecture on an area where I am the expert… but a small room full of thin athletic people… no way José…

Yet here I am on Tuesday night walking into a small dark room with disco lights and introducing myself to an intimidating fit 20 something bloke with hairy arms and muscles all over.

He is very welcoming explains how to alter the seat and the handle bars and then nothing more because suddenly we are off…

And boy are we going at pace…everyone furiously pedalling whilst Mr A shouts instructions from the front I try to keep up with everyone else…except…

How am I meant to tell how fast I am going when I can’t turn the computer on… or possibly it is already is on only I can’t read it because its so bloomin’ dark… what’s that?  Up a gear, oh and now you want me stand up and pedal furiously at an even harder gear…

Standing up scares the pants off me, as do cages on bike pedals… I should have run out the door the moment lovely Hannah, who did the quick intro to the facilities before the trial session began, asked me if I had proper cycling shoes…

Mr A shouts at me to turn the pedals the other way up whilst at the same time calling to the group to ease off and take a drink… a nice (but annoyingly slim) lady next to me kindly jumps off her steed and quickly plops my feet where they are meant to be and adjusts the straps… hell now I am caught and truly stuck… no escape I am here for the next 30 minutes now

My knee is starting to ache, but it’s nothing compared to the pain that is developing in my crotch area… it’s not until you try someone else’s bike that you realise how much you take your own saddle for granted… I don’t want to stop, I’m embarrassed enough without making it worse by wimping out in front of these strangers.

Yes I am fat and unfit but I am not a quitter I can do this, I’m not in the business of handing people reasons to despise me on a plate… but I have no idea how much longer this will go on as there is no clock in the room and I still haven’t worked out how to turn the computer on… and I have no way of judging if I’m going fast enough except by comparing where my gear lever is in comparison to the bloke next to me and making sure I’m pedalling as fast  as he is…

Eventually I have to give up with the standing bits of the session otherwise I’m going to collapse and plant my face in the handlebars… I just  tried to keep up with the speed of everyone else… and then its over…I finished… god knows how and the sweat is pouring out of me… of course I had forgotten to bring a bottle of water with me… and everyone else had small handtowels…

That was sheer hell… yet as I fall out the door I shout see you next week

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So… I may have accidently joined a Gym…

I have been watching the light fade these last few days…I’ve been watching it fade earlier and earlier and wondering what I am going to do for exercise now that “winter is coming”

The options seem to be either I embrace the dark and cycle in it; obtain a turbo trainer and attach my bike to it…or a bike to it; or go over to the dark side and join a gym

Now I am not keen on exercise as you have probably gathered by now. The cycling is ok as its exercise by default mostly it is about being outside on the bike and seeing the world I miss when I speed by in the car. Joining a gym would be exercise for exercise sake, personal bests, targets, pushing yourself more each week in fact possibly all the things I probably need… but at a gym you can’t pretend you are doing anything else but exercising (except when swimming).

So canvassing views from the office MAMIL’s I get a surprisingly mixed view of cycling in the dark…one absolutely embraces it, says as long as you have a good lighting set up then there is nothing wrong and he loves it… mind you he thinks I’m weird because I like cycling in the rain…another does it but with some fear and trepidation and the third just won’t go there.

I have just upgraded my lighting set up. Not because I am going to embrace the night but because colleague 1 convinced me my lights were inadequate. Yes my original lights make me legal but choosing them because they look cute, are in fetching shades of purple and were very very cheap was apparently not the criteria I should have used…

4 years as a personal injury lawyer (many many years ago… I am reformed !), plus the fact that I would be a girl alone at night on country roads are possibly the greater negatives for me on cycling at night. (the older you get the scareder you get but weirdly more confident about other things !)

I haven’t ruled out a turbo trainer. I suspect it will require 2 bikes as I fear that attaching it and unattaching it will be too much faff for me as I don’t intend to give up my outside cycling entirely. A friend has one she doesn’t use and is lending it to me over the winter in exchange for dinner this Saturday.

So that left the gym. Which is an unknown quantity as I have reached the ripe age of 44 having never darkened the door of one. However my enlightened colleague also mentioned that he did not thinking that cycling was enough and that I should think about cross training…

Now apart from the fact I hate exercise I have always found the offers and contract relating to gyms and gym membership rather confusing. Take our local one which is simultaneously offering membership for £1 and join now get 3 months free… feeling thoroughly confused I decided to email the local leisure centre for an explanation and ask about their group cycling (whether it was suitable for exercise refusniks) … and amazingly within about 90 minutes they responded which is how I found myself on Tuesday night puffing away like a sweaty out of breath thing on a stationary bike

It was a trial session but there were no concessions for being a newbie… you were just tipped straight into the fray…

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Childhood Dreams

Since that cold wet Monday evening when I turned up with the broken down bicycle that we now call “Candy The Slapper” the Man has become quite enthusiastic about the project…

It started the evening I returned. He came into the bathroom where I was soaking the cold out of my bones with the hottest bath I could bear. He came in and sat by the bath

“I’ve been looking at the frame. She’s in surprisingly good nick for something so screamingly ‘80’s”

The Man reckoned that she had been involved in an accident as the crankwheel was pushed into the frame and the teeth dug in to the paintwork if you tried to turn the pedals. His theory was that she may have been stored at the back of the garage and one day someone parking the car might have failed to stop, crashing into the car and forcing the crankwheel into the frame…and then she was just left in the garage hence the fact there was very little rust or dirt other than the sticky greasy film that seemed to be all over her.

It was the Man who started referring to the bike as “she” and “her”…  as in

“She has a very pretty frame”

Candy the Slapper is of mixte construction having 2 parallel toptubes coming from the handlebar stem, going either side of the seat tube and joining the drop outs at the back.

Candy is the bike from the 1980’s I never had… my bike was a very sensible bike for going to and from school on…with a basket… and because I have very short legs I never grew out of the bike I got at the age of 10… I was still using it at the age of 18 despite the fact that by then it had seen many many better days…

The Man started telling me about the bike from his teenage years muttering reverently names like Sturmley Archer and Reynolds 531 frames…

It was a Raleigh… of course it was a Raleigh most kids in England ended up with Raleighs because back then there was still a belief that all the manufacturing was still done in England, Nottingham…

I had a Puch… but then we bought our bikes off my Uncle John who owned a bike shop… in Nottingham…

The Man is hooked and fired up about the project. Together we manage to find an old brochure on the internet showing the Raleigh Candice…it’s not quite the same model though but it gives us an idea for dates.

He also gets quite enthused over photographs of other bikes people have done…We end up having to put a budget on ourselves as it is quite possible to go quite gaga over accessories…and Candy was never meant to be a diva of a bike. She was meant to be a learning curve for bicycle repair and a bit of a beater bike for taking to places I didn’t have the courage to take the Ridgeback.

But things seem to be evolving quite fast… at some point we have to make a decision as to whether this is a repair or a restoration…

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Did I mention I have no hair ?

I never really introduced myself… just rushed straight in. Well now I have worked out how to get photos off my phone and on to wordpress (I have an android and mostly I create content on an IPad mini or at work neither of which will let me add photos from the phone) I probably should say hello properly

Hello… this is me…


at least this was me on the Saturday morning before the bank holiday at about 11am…

This is now what I look like….


My next door neighbour has just removed all my hair for me as part of Macmillan Cancer supports “Brave the Shave” campaign

It was probably the most exciting thing to have happened in the village for some time hence the number of children who were also crowded into the back garden watching and videoing the event… fortunately none of them are old enough or technologically savvy enough to have worked out how to add it to YouTube… yet !

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Some towns are friendlier than others

As a commuter I spend a lot of time in traffic, correction a lot of time sitting in traffic watching the road around me. Since venturing back on the bike I’ve found that I notice cyclist more in that I don’t just register that there is a bike and I need to take care but I notice what sort of bike it is, male or female rider, helmet or not and what sort of accessories are on the bike as well as make model and colour if I’m close enough.

Today I went to Reading and noticed lots of cyclists. Is  Reading  a very bike friendly town ?There are cyclists everywhere, people commuting with children and dogs on the backs, people with laptops and briefcases sticking out of baskets, some in work clothes some in Lycra…lots of them.. whereas on my current commute to Solihull I hardly see any.

I know there are cyclists in Solihull, we have bike racks at work so someone is obviously cycling. I also know there are cyclepaths in Solihull as the Council tell me there are and provides a nice big friendly booklet about them… but I can’t find any of them…no cyclepaths and only 1 cyclist spotted just as I got to the office and our organisation encourages people to get on their bikes…

In Reading the cyclepaths and cycle routes are very obvious and well signposted and there are lots of them…some of them even tell you how long by bike it will take you to get from where you are to somewhere else.

Loads of cyclepaths seems to = loads of cyclists

On the journey back through Henley, less than 10 miles down the road I only see 2 cyclists in Henley, as I cut through the town centre from one side to the other, plus two stationery bicycles. There are no obvious cycle routes in the town centre, I spot a couple but they are on the outskirts and peter out as you approach the town centre…

Do more cycle routes mean more cyclists ?  Or is it unfair to compare Henley to Reading since it is much much smaller…

However cycling to the Reading office has never been an option since its about 70 miles from home… and by the time I got to work it would be time to come home. Solihull is a possibility though as even unfit Slug that I am I could feasibly manage 25 miles and with a bit of practice possible do it within 2 hours…

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Monday A foolish girl and why I married the Man

How do you fit this wreck

image image

into this small car…


And possibly more importantly why would you ?

Recent experiences whereby I come back to discover that the Man has added bits or removed bits from my bike has made me want to learn how to do what the Man does?  He has no fear of repairs and maintenance or flat tyres. If his bike isn’t working the way he expects it to then he just changes it, no ifs no buts no procrastination… also he walks round bike shops seeing possibilities and not, as I do feeling overfaced by row upon row of bits bobs and accessories.

I am reluctant to learn by fiddling around with the Ridgeback (which reminds me I haven’t introduced the bikes yet)  as I might mess it up and then  I am without a ride… or waiting for the Man to make good what I have messed up… which would be embarrassing

So on impulse I bought a cheap “parts or restoration on ebay ” bike for £10.

Unfortunately I got my towns mixed up and thought I was picking it up from just outside Rugby… it was only after the auction had closed that I discovered that the bike was located just outside Nottingham some 90 minutes from home, just over an hour from work.

Oops… and then in order to avoid adverse comment on ebay I had to go through with it as they were only accepting cash and that was on collection only.

I perhaps should mention that shortly after I left the office it started raining. it was absolutely hoofing it down for most of the way down the M42 and M1 but had eased off by the time I came off the A46…but was still far from dry

The sellers had kindly taken the wheels and the fenders off for me; also the back carrier but the bike was still too large and I had no tools with me having come straight from work…they then shut the door on me pretty much as soon as I handed over the money so I also had had to carry it to my own car.

There I am in the spitting rain trying the bike this way and that.  It didn’t fit in the boot… or the passenger seat…and I have no back seat or back shelf to speak of…fortunately my car does this…


So I drove back from Nottingham with the top down and with a smelly dirty 1980’s Raleigh in the passenger seat…in the rain as of course the further I went from Nottingham the more the rain started to fall.  Fortunately however I didn’t actually get very wet and neither did the inside of the car. I was wearing a cut price waterproof jacket that the Man had dumped in the back “in case you break down in the rain” and I guess the design of the windscreen kept most of the spray out of the car.

I wasn’t sure how legal it was to drive with the top down and a dangerous pile of spiky metal bits in the passenger seat so I decided to avoid the motorways and take roads less travelled which worked fine until I managed to lose the route of the A46 around Leicester… somehow I stumbled upon the A47 which took me to Hinkley where I was then able to join the A5 and then the Fosse Way home.

This was a cold wet journey but surprisingly quite exhilarating… at least at first.   I think I got a grin from a road cyclist just outside of Hinkley who may have spotted my passenger… then again it may just have been gratitude for giving him enough room when overtaking after the lights…

It possibly stopped being a fun adventure around about  Stetton Under Fosse/Brinklow… by now I was slightly tired, getting cold and very very hungry… but the Fosse is the route home pretty much so I slogged on.

When I get back the Man is looking out for me. He says nothing just looks at me with his usual amused rueful grin…the one he uses when I am collapsed by the back door after a ride.  He makes no comments about the rain,  the topless car or the rusted wreck in the passenger seat,  just “I thought you said you bought a frame…what’s with the wheels and other bits” and  “ Kettles on, thought you might like a bath before dinner to warm you up…but would you mind stripping the chicken first so that I can make dinner”

Reader, this is why I married him, because he takes my slightly unconventional  approach to life in his stride and accepts my reasons for doing things as logical for the world in which this family lives in… oh, and cooks a pretty mean stir fry…even if he is squeamish about touching greasy meat (I accept his illogical hang-ups too).

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Why  I don’t cycle on Wednesdays

For some reason cycling clubs seem to like the roads round our village and usually on a Wednesday the roads are peppered with people in lycra until after about 9pm.

When I puff by in my t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms I can feel the disapproval coming after me in waves… how dare I be sharing the roads with these serious cyclists… don’t I realise what the need to get round me will do to their times !!! How dare I be seen on a bike without a ludicrous amount of lycra…

I had naively assumed that cycling was a broad church that welcomed all comers and we were all equal in the eyes of other cyclists…oh how wrong can a slug be…

I haven’t tried cycling off road yet so I don’t know if I will be welcomed by MTBers but the road lot really don’t like seeing a slug on a hybrid pedalling along as fast as she can go. As for the more specialised bike shops and how the staff react when you get a middle age couple nosing around… well (and I don’t just mean the Daventry one I mentioned some time ago)!

OK I know not all cyclists are quite so snobbish. I am fortunate to work for an organisation that promotes cycling as a form of low carbon transport. We also have quite a few rock climbing acquaintances who are keen cyclists and will happily share their knowledge about different models/brands/equipment… even though they are usually at different ends of the price bracket to us.

Generally I find that if you talk to someone who cycles on a one to one basis they are fine but if you come across a group of cyclists forget it… they are just not very welcoming. Is this a new thing or has it always been there ? Having had very little to do with bikes or cyclist since the age of 18 I have no way of telling

That aside, if I have to cycle on a Wednesday then I avoid the routes I know will be infested… it’s taken me a lot of personal courage to get this far and I can do without grumpy men in tights thinking they own the roads…

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Saturday: In which the man has his head turned… with expensive consequences

The Boy spends his Tuesday evenings at karate… he is becoming quite good and seems to enjoy it. His karate group is part of a bigger collection who have additional practice on Saturdays in Daventry. As his group doesn’t meet during the school holidays he has  been invited to join Saturday practice.

Karate grading also takes place in Daventry. At the start of the holidays we took the boy to be graded. Parents are not encouraged to hang around whilst grading takes place so the Man and I went window shopping for an hour or so. After wondering around Daventry town centre we wondered back through the retail park where we stumbled upon a bike shop.

This is not the sort of bike shop I usually frequent. It’s one of those staffed by skinny male assistants with well cultivated and tended facial hair who splatter their conversation liberally with the word “cadence”…the sort of place that a casual cyclist like me feels out of place and uncomfortable.

The man and I quietly amused ourselves seeing who could find the most expensive bike (£8k Cannondale in case you were wondering) and fondling the occasional shiny bit of metal.

I suddenly realise I was alone. The Man has stopped and didn’t seem to have moved for about 5 minutes…spooling back to the start of our hours freedom I  recalled  him similarly stopping outside Daventry Leisure centre to admire a stealth black Specialized…and that was what he was stood in front of…quite heavily discounted as it is last years stock. The Man is captivated.

Some weeks later we come back to Daventry for the Saturday training session. As we drop the Boy off the Man casually suggest  “lets have a look in the bike shop…I think there is a café there”

I think I probably knew this was coming. He has been distracted on occasion during the holiday eying up other bikes around the Netherlands and Denmark. A strange glint in his eye

Anyway we wonder in and the sexy stealth black model he had been eying up previously had gone and in its place there is a monstrous green and orange version…safe. But wait, one of the  hirsute young men sidles across casually mentioning into the Man’s willing ear that “yes, we do have  a black one in the stock room”…

After that it was pretty much a done deal. The Man was so  in love with this bike that all it took was an offer to put pedals on it and let him ride it round and round the car park  and shortly after he was wielding the plastic and agreeing a delivery date of 2 weeks in the future…

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Tuesday – The first cut is the deepest

So today was the first bike ride since the holiday and I was feeling seriously rusty.  Although we had cycled quite a bit the first week it had tailed off a bit in the second, mainly because I got fed up of having to reassemble my bike everytime.

We only have two slots on the bike carrier so the Man insisted that my bike be the one that gets disassembled and travels inside the van. This meant that before I went for a ride I had to reattch the quick release wheels…easy… and then clip the brakes back… not so easy. Even less easy when you cut the top of your thumb when making the evening meal… everytime I tried to put the back brake cables back into the requisite position I bled everywhere…

Then on the second but last night the heavens opened and all the bikes got soaked (mine goes out at night) and my gear shifters filled with sandy/grit because the bike was upside down…

The soaking and the constant dismantling didn’t seem to have left any permanent issues but it wasn’t the best of rides. I probably shouldn’t have decided to list the 19 possible routes by length and then decide to tackle them in order as the 2 shortest rides are the hardest ones.

Perversely these are some of my favourite rides but in a love hate way. I love it when I am out there cycling, I especially love it when I am lying on the floor by the back door having achieved it…but there is a definite reluctance on my part to get my butt off the sofa and out the door because I know I will have to face those hills…

Still feeling a lack of direction…

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“Something better change…”

I woke up this morning before the others and crept downstairs to enjoy an early morning cup of tea on the patio… I like this time on a Sunday morning, it’s stolen time, as though the world is on pause…

Unfortunately I made the mistake of weighing myself whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Yep it had gone up. Not by much which I guess was a bonus, and if we hadn’t taken the bikes, and if I hadn’t kept a careful eye on the amount of ice cream consumed it could have been worse…

But an increase is an increase 😦

Later in the bath I pondered my progress. Sometimes in order to keep momentum you need to give things a boost by making a change, some small change which makes a big difference.

It’s like housework or gardening. If you do something like the laundry, loading the dishwasher or mowing the lawn the impact on how the house/garden looks it amazing as is its impact on your perception of how much more work needs to be done.

But what to do… failing to come up with a strategy I got out of the bath, dressed and went and mowed the lawn.  A couple of hours later with some major beds also weeded and the garden looking straighter I felt as though I was more in control of things.

I guess with the house in such a tip because of our return from holiday  AND the end of the holiday (work tomorrow) I am feeling a bit down so more inclined to feel low due to a few extra pounds creeping on…

But I am not sure what to do to try and move away from the 12 stone mark, no matter what I do I just keep hanging around this milestone  😦

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Best. Bike ride. Eveh

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go on with this blog. I mean trying to lose weight can be pretty soul destroying let alone boring the pants off other people by moaning about the struggle on the internet… but then something changed, my worst bike experience became my best and left me buzzing for hours.

We live in a little Warwickshire village connected by about 6 roads. Pretty much every road involves a hill very soon after you set off…which is odd because the village is also at the top of a hill!

There is one road in particular that I regard as my nemesis as the “hill” part of the ride cuts in within about 2 minutes of leaving the house. The last time I did this route the hill pretty much crucified me and is why I regard this particular route with love/hate… it is the shortest ride but the most intense because of the ascent/decent/ascent nature of it and leaves me feeling shattered but exhilarated… however it can take me some time to leave the house when I know that’s the route I will be doing.

So this particular evening I got home from work a bit earlier than usual and got ready to go for a ride and then discovered that there were a million and one other jobs to do first before I could possibly leave the house. By the time the Man and Boy got back the light was starting to fade and, still unwilling to face my demons, I gave the man the choice of which route I should do, over the motorway and back (which I loathe) or the short sharp shock… I knew in my heart what he would say as the failing light meant a quickie was all I would be able to fit in.

So set off low in spirits, warmed up with once round the block and chose to join the main road up the hill slightly further back then usual (I have a choice of 3 junctions) and started to slog my way… wait a minute what slog, I’m here at the top already ! Yep it was that easy, and I don’t know whether it was the warm up, run up, passage of time and better muscle or even the fact I’d actually remembered to pump my tyres up to the correct pressure or what, but I flew up that hill and all round the 3.5 mile circuit without pausing for breath or collapsing at the Man’s feet by the back door… I spend the rest of the evening on a happy giggling high of achievement.

OK so by the end of the week I’d also had my worst ride ever which ended with me walking back with a flat back tyre due to my own incompetence.

So here I am back on the internet because I want to remember the highs and lows of this journey and be able to look back on the good bits when I’m feeling down.

I kept notes during my holiday intending to write about some of it and I kept notes on about 2 weeks after our return. Some of this I may write about over the next few weeks so things may seem a bit out of order for awhile.

I am now about 10 weeks into trying to shift the blubber and to be honest things haven’t been going well. I’ve been eating healthily but not healthy enough, I’ve been exercising but not enough… I feel fitter but not less fat. So it’s time to turn things up a notch.

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We’re all going on a summer holiday

We are off on holiday this evening…holidays are usually the death knell of good intentions.

Fortunately the Man has decided that we are taking the bikes as Denmark is apparently cycle friendly… however before that we have a seriously long ferry journey in front of us…from 9am to 5pm..

I’m packing my pedometer as I suspect that if I am going to do 8 hours on a ferry there will be a lot of walking around as even I may find it difficult to sit and read or knit for that length of time – the Boy will be climbing the walls if he isn’t kept moving and distracted

I am also taking the Matt Roberts Fat Loss book in case cycling doesn’t work out whilst we are on holiday

We will also be at the mercy of Ferry food…so a bag of snacks and some drinks is coming as backup

In case you were wondering I got to call it a Green this morning for Thin Club… but only just and completley undeserved after last nights pizza…

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Why do you run/walk/swim/climb ? How do you motivate yourself ?

Shortly after I got my bike through the cycle to work scheme my brother was inspired to do the same… and whereas my cycling came to a shuddering stop when the local office was closed he kept going…

When I started again he gave me some advice..to time myself; because half the fun is from trying to beat your personal best…

I mentioned this to a friend in our Reading office, this friend Will, is Mr Bike as far as I am concerned. This is a man who cycles to work most days (from Newbury), thinks nothing of getting on his bike to visit his parents in Derbyshire, was delighted to attend a trial in Luton as he could have the fun of cycling back over the Chilterns and a couple of years ago took 2 weeks off work to raise money cycling Lands End to John o Groats

He disagreed. He said it is not about challenging yourself. It’s about the journey. About enjoying the things around you that you miss when whizzing along in a car. Slow down and listen to the grass grow.

I think I may be closer to Will’s philosophy than my brother…the ride of failure on Tuesday was vastly improved by the sight of a fox trotting across the road in front of me as I panted and pushed my sorry way home.  The second time I was out I think I was happier by the fact I’d seen a fox cub, something small yellow and feathery possibly a yellowhammer and a heron all in one ride rather than the fact that I’d knocked 5 minutes off my previous time (not had such an improvement since though… but there has been plenty of good wildlife).

It’s not confined to cycling however, you can see it in most sports. Back when I used to climb (when the Man and I first met and before the Boy) you could divide the climbing community between those who were happy to push the E numbers and had their own Gym/climbing wall in the garage and the happy thuggers like myself and the Man whose idea of a good time was slugging our way to the top of a vaguely interesting bit of rock followed by a picnic in the sunshine with the rest of the group.

BUT… I’m not sure that this is reflected in sport literature. Climbing, Swimming and Cycling all have inspirational books about how someone took on the odds, pushed their own envelopes and improved their performance but there doesn’t seem to be much about the flabby majority of us (apart perhaps from the Ascent of Rum Doodle or the Owl and the Cragrat)…except in running literature

Which is why although I am unlikely to put Run Fat Bitch Run into practice I am reading it for motivation along with “It’s only 4 times round the village” and “Running Like a Girl”

Tonight’s ride is the standard 4 mile circuit I started with, complete with the need to open two gates…the penalty for quite country roads is that some of them are Gated…

Then home to pack

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Run Fat Bitch Run by Ruth Field

Following on from yesterday’s dismal attempt I guess it is appropriate to talk about Run Fat Bitch Run by the Grit Doctor aka Ruth Field

I bought the book on the same day as I bought Eat Nourish Glow. It was one of those “you bought this; we thought you might also be interested in this…”

I can tell you now, this book won’t get me running as the “set up time” is too much of a commitment… I can spare 30-60 mines for a cycle ride or a run but not the 90 minutes or more it would take to do the initial “walking the route” but I am leaping ahead of myself.

The books aim is to get people out running including people like myself who don’t believe they are capable or running. It takes as its start point the idea that the biggest hurdle to running is actually leaving the house. Once you get into a routine of leaving the house and make yourself do it at least 3 times a week then you can slowly build up your stamina and your ability until you can run at least 5km…

You start by choosing a route, preferably circular of about 4-5km. You get to know the route and when you are comfortable with the route you gradually start running and walking it and gradually you end up spending more time running than walking.

The book is big on being tough with yourself. About stopping making obstacles as to why you can’t do it and find solutions to the obstacles.  It emphasises that by just leaving the house it’s a win. Every run is a win whether you performed well or not. Be tough on yourself but not hard.

After talking about running generally and how to get started it then has sections on post baby running and nudging it up a bit to marathon running.

The book takes a fun, tongue in cheek approach to just getting you out there. It can be gently bullying and is definitely no nonsense. Either this approach will appeal or it won’t.

The section on dieting and weight loss is similar to the section on running – in short stop making excuses, only you are in control of what you eat and either you want to be thinner or you don’t.

As far as diet is concerned the rules are broadly the same as Eat. Nourish. Glow namely get rid of bad habits towards food and develop good; throw temptation out of the house, drink more water; eat vegetables; with an emphasis on the fact that movement should happen first rather than the diet…

This is probably the most important point because lets face it most of us find it easier to tinker around with the diet (a not doing, a negative) than to get out an exercise (a positive act).

The list of 7 deadly sins is very similar to Eat Nourish Glow too. Sugar is bad. Avoid processed food. No more snacking.

There is a reasonably good section on motivation but by and large the book is not saying anything new but is saying it in a slightly different way.

Although I am not going to be using the book in order to get me running I am applying the philosophy to the cycling as there doesn’t seem to be anything out there similar for flabby wanna be cyclists like myself… there is no-one writing books encouraging people just to get “on yer bike” and pedal. The majority of cycling literature is either travelogues, improving your training techniques or biographies of cyclists…not very inspirational…

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This is the first time since May I have failed. I have failed before in that I have failed to go out at all either because I don’t fancy it or there is no one around to keep and eye on the Boy, then it’s not really failing, just postponing to another day …

Today was the first time I have set off on a ride and come back without having done the planned route.

I don’t know what happened… I managed the big hill leaving the village and a good 2.5 miles or so and then my legs just weren’t there anymore – they just didn’t want to go round

Admittedly I hadn’t been feeling too bright when I got back. The day had involved an early start due to a trip to Leeds. I’d rushed out without breakfast thinking I’d get something at the station – totally forgetting that station buffets are not good foraging grounds for healthy eating unless you regard bacon and pastry as essential parts of your 5 a day.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover some Bircher Muesli by a firm called Moma (which stands for Making Oats More Awesome) clocking in at 306 calories and possibly counting towards the 5…admittedly slightly more sugar than I would have liked but hey you can’t have everything.

Unfortunately I also failed to take lunch with me, was running late when I got to Leeds and discovered when I reached my destination that in order to get lunch I would have to leave the office… through a back route as they had closed the front door due to a water leak…not being able to face all the security checks to get out I left eating until my return to the station which was not until 3pm

Lunch was healthy (Camden Food Co salad) but by then I was a bit of a diva due to hunger and narrowly escaped being the nasty woman on the train that makes the old couple stand all the way to Sheffield. They were in my pre booked seat – fortunately there was a spare one near by…

But lettuce and salad is not very filling so maybe by the time I set off on my bike at 7pm I simply lacking in sufficient calories… or possibly was dehydrated as I had hardly anything to drink all day due to fear of being forced to use the toilet on the train…

So as I crawled back the Man gave me his usual amused grin. He doesn’t understand the urge that makes me do this but quietly supports… the Man ran me a bath, plonked me in it and sometime later supplied tea in my Little Miss Sunshine Mug.

Much later there was a bowl of pasta carbnnara (within the remaining calories for the day) and a throw away comment that “maybe we should take the bikes with us when we go… Denmark is supposed to be very bike friendly…”

He also points out that I managed about 4 miles and one hill, so it was not a complete failure… I still went out for a ride… that is still a win…

He is my wing man, my partner in crime. He has my back

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Week 1 Day 1 the retake

Today is weigh in day for the NHS programme. I clock in at 12 stone which is not good as it puts me back at the start of my Thin Club declaration from 3 weeks ago.  However I do get to claim a 31.5 inch waist… maybe the exercise and dieting is having some effect and the weight gain is muscle… however it scores a 44 inch below the belly button across my fat belt.

Measuring the fat belt is not easy with a tape measure… normally I just stand in the bath room, grab the flab between my two hands and exclaim “where the hell did that come from…”

I decide to start  Week 1 again as I didn’t really pay much attention to the 5 a day and failed miserably on the resistance exercises… to start me off  I deliberately forget my lunch

Forgetting my lunch is a planned weight loss technique… stick with me on this…

I think my failure to lose weight last week despite the cycling was because I have stopped parking my car a mile away from work (It’s been raining… I’m a wimp!).  I had been clocking up almost 10,000 steps simply walking between work and car together with a walk at lunchtime.

So lunch had to be foraged for. It wasn’t cheap but it started me off on the right footing… a Prêt super bowl salad and a portion of mango which not only ticked the fibre fruit and veg boxes but gave me 2,500 steps… sadly that will be the total for the day as rain means I am in the car park again with only a 30 second walk between car and desk

However with the Man back I have someone to “babysit” (the Boy is 10 and cannot be left alone in the house for another 4 years yet… and to be honest I am not sure I would trust the Boy in any event, he is bright but lacks awareness of “risk”)

The ride this evening felt good and left my glowing with self righteous thoughts… when I stopped lying on the floor and moaning that is. If you are not here for the cycling then you may want to skip ahead to Wednesday when there is a review. This week unfortunately will be quite heavy on the bike stuff as I am trying to fit four short rides in before the end of the week.

I don’t know about you but it is rare that I come back from holiday lighter than when I left… I am a bit worried about the forthcoming holiday that all the good I have done so far will be undone.

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It’s raining… The Boy and I declare it a duvet day irrespective of the fact it is Sunday.

Not a lot is done by either of us but I do at least get the office cleared and organised which improves my mental well being… especially as I discover the passports.

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Saturday…wine and a duck

I probably should explain what I am doing here…

At the start of the week I decided to commit myself to the NHS 12 week plan which is based on a combination of diet (calories reduction by about 600 calories a day) and exercise of 150 minutes per week.

My problem isn’t really the food side. The food side I can do easily. The exercise though causes me difficulties. I need something that forces me to get out there. I need a set of instructions

Previously I’ve followed the the Matt Roberts Fat Loss programme. It works for me. It got me down to 11 stone from I think 13 stone. I am not quite sure what my starting weight was as I used a weighing machine at Marylebone Station and I can’t guarantee that the Boy wasn’t teasing me at the time by standing on the scales behind me.

This is what 11 stone looks like. Still big. But happy and active and most of all not wobbling when I dance… except where you’d expect it !

My Mum calls the Matt Roberts programme the Boot Camp. It isn’t. It is still down to your choice to do it or not but it is an organised structure of exercise. The problem with the Matt Roberts programme for me is Week 2 Day 1… which involves running… I can’t run… I would like to fix that… but I am not ready yet.

The NHS programme is a warm up… its slightly structured… it requires cardio exercise 5 times a week and 2 of “resistance…  Admittedly I’ve not managed that at all this week and I’ve only so far fitted in 60 minutes exercise.

Also I’m going to get a bad mark on the chart for the calories today as I’m having dinner with my parents…again… there will be wine… but better there is roast duck 🙂

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Today is declaration day for Thin Club. Thin Club is like Fight Club except the first rule is that you tell everyone about it.

I know it’s not the done thing to talk about trying to lose weight because it bores the pants of people. Telling people though can be useful because if you have told the right people then they remind you when temptation is put in your path… they can reinforce your will power.

Thin Club is a virtual club based on self declaration. All the members work in different offices of the same organisation. It has struggled to get off the ground… some people committed to Thin Club only to then confess  they didn’t actually own a pair of scales.

For the past 2 weeks then it’s been mostly me and a colleague talking about avoiding or not avoiding temptation over the email. We have come to the conclusion that all birthdays should be banned and no colleagues should be allowed to go on holiday… there is too much cake in the office.

This week we are both “calling it orange” No one has a green light (indicating a reduction from the week before). We agree that this is probably the downside of a warm weekend in the UK that we all rush out to do barbeques and drink wine

Today is Friday… I’ll explain why Fridays are a problem another time… at least this evening I won’t be going home and splitting a bottle of wine with the Man… but there will be Steak and Chips and some wine at my parents… but its ok because breakfast and lunch involved fruit and vegetables… and NOT, I promise NOT giving in to the temptation of Italian biscuits from a colleagues trip to Italy…

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I sneaked a bike ride in this evening.  Normally I cycle on Tuesday evenings and then Saturday and Sunday mornings as the Man is around to keep an eye on the Boy. This weekend Saturday and Sunday are not an option as I will be on my own, temporarily a single Mum. The Man is off to Belgium to watch cars go round and round a track and to drink Belgium beer with his eldest who is a Moto Journalist/PR officer.

This evening the ride was only 3 miles but it was all hills. I think I mentioned before that whichever road you take out of this village you meet hills..think Rome but not so ancient, or San Franciso but not so large or urban. The first time I did this particular ride I did it in reverse and it nearly killed me as you hit the big hill on the main road out within 3 minutes of leaving the house.

Twenty five minutes later I collapse on the patio. The Man was preoccupied with leaving the house and did not offer his usual encouragement of standing at the back door and looking at my comatose and spread-eagled body.

After he’s gone I feel empty…as though my partner in crime has gone straight…

I pull myself together and go and attack some vegetables in the kitchen… In his absence I am going to eat all the things I don’t normally get to eat… soon there is a big pot of vegetable soup bubbling away… did I mention I live with Vegetable deniers…

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Eat. Nourish. Glow. By Amelia Freer

I first came across Eat Nourish Glow on another blog (link). I wasn’t particularly interested at the time as it seemed just another one of the recent crop of books by thin, well groomed young ladies of a certain socio economic group extolling the virtues of thinly peeled vegetables (a la Hemsley and Hemsley)… so I ignored it. I ignored it again when I saw it on offer with the Book People.

However when it crossed my Amazon search results page when looking for a gluten free cookbook for a colleague to cheer her up (she’d just been put on a no gluten, no caffeine, no alcohol regime following major surgery) and the Kindle edition was on sale for £0.99, I thought lets give this a go.

(The Colleague incidentally got the Hemsley and Hemsley book and loves it. As I do, having benefitted from the colleague sharing “sesame bliss balls” with the rest of the office).

On my first read through I decided my instincts were right and that it was not for me. I am not a great believer in cutting anything out, not totally, except perhaps those things you don’t actually like eating. However on the second read it seems she is not recommending cutting things out, just that you might like to do so if these things are contributing to you feeling less than well.

This is not a cookbook. There are very few recipes. It is more a manual for living. The book is divided up into her 10 rules for creating a healthy way of life and discussion of how to put this in practice.

The rules are nothing you probably haven’t come across before. The emphasis is on breaking bad habits and creating new habits; drink more water; move more; do a kitchen detox to get temptation out of the house; portion control and eat to feed hunger not because you are bored; Ban snacking, don’t constantly graze; eat your 5 a day; eat less process food.

I don’t disagree with her rules it’s just that I am doing a lot of this already or as much as I can within the confines of family life. The issue I have is that like a lot of books it doesn’t take account of how hard it can be to follow such rules when you have to take other people’s dietary needs into account.

In some respects it is the same as a lot of other books. “This worked for me.” But it doesn’t give enough consideration for the fact that there are more in the target audience than single girls whose past preferred way of drinking tea is to add a lot of sugar to it… (I am not sure that tea and coffee drunk without milk or sugar is an evil and probably won’t cause an insulin spike!)

On the whole it’s an ok book. It’s not advocating anything outrageous and it certainly doesn’t annoy me quite as much as “I quit sugar does…

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Tuesday is my day. My day for bike riding. On Tuesdays the Boy has karate after school,  but school is out for summer and so is karate. The Boy wanted to go with me but I turned him down. He’s only been cycling for a year and is not very fast. Worse though is that he has the road awareness of a house brick… but thinks he knows it all because he’s been on the Bikeability course.

Cycling is not new. I have been trying to be more active for some time now since Christmas but the cycling has only been going for about 1.5 months

The first time I went out I took my first ever selfie as I wanted to see how bad I looked. I managed to do what we call “the circuit” which is about 4.5 miles in 30 minutes. A couple of days later I had it down to 25 minutes but it’s been slow progress since then.


Every time it stops hurting I nudge it up a bit so I am now up to 7 miles… but pretty much every road out of the village involves a hill so I’m not too disappointed with progress… and I can now do most of the hills in 3rd.

But with karate over until September I am going to have to find something for the Boy to do as he needs to be active and kids these days don’t have the same opportunity for being naturally active… I know that it cannot be cycling because cycling together will just frustrate the both of us… and as for swimming… well I’ll leave that for another day…

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Week 1 – Day 1 Monday

I am a big girl. I have always been a big girl. I probably always will be a big girl.  I have not,  however,  always been a fat girl and certainly not always an unfit girl… these things took time… but not much talent.

As a kid I had what I would describe as an unconscious baseline of fitness. I don’t ever recall consciously exercising outside of PE lessons… I was just… active, but unconsciously so because the activity was just part of daily life.

Our school was 2 miles away from home. Back then it was standard for kids to walk to school, unaccompanied… and at the end of the day you went back, on foot. No-one waited at the school gates for you, no collection by car.

On the occasions you didn’t walk you cycled… because that’s just what kids did. It’s not that the roads were safer then it’s just that we kids were fearless and thought we would live for ever… Our parents probably did not recognise the risks;  car ownership in the UK didn’t take off until after they had grown up.

I also did a paper round 7 days a week…being the UK this was often in the dark of an early morning. Cycling in the dark. On my own. At age 14… It’s probably illegal these days…

On Saturdays I went swimming. Competing against my brother to see who could do the most lengths in an hour (over 100 in case you were wondering) or if we were feeling lazy we would race to the  first to 20 lengths and then practice swimming underwater in as few strokes as possible… the pool, naturally, was 2 miles away from home and we would cycle there and back…sometimes it felt as if everything was 2 miles away from home

But none of this was exercise. It was just life.

So how did this happen? How did I become this living sofa loving slug of a girl?

Strike 1:  I am a big girl. All that cycling creates muscles. Not every girl had thighs like mine. So I got teased. I stopped doing cross country running. I became reluctant to be seen in a PE kit or a swim suit. I tried not to leave the house. I hid with my books and my music.

Strike 2: I grew up; went to university. Then I got a job in front of a computer, and a commute…by car. I discovered wine and parties… I lived life to the full. I became less active because time was short.

Strike 3:  my body decided it wanted a baby. Post pregnancy was fine. Babies keep you active, all that walking with push chairs and the lifting up and putting down. Post pregnancy it is constant activity… but then babies become toddlers and want their independence “I do it” is their constant refrain and all Mum can do is walk slowly behind to make sure they don’t fall over… and then, and then its being a full time worker who is also a Mum whose days are filled with the admin of making sure the child gets to school on time…before heading off for a full days work… in my case 67 miles away…and spends their days just so so tired just from the effort of living

And then when you turn 40 you start fighting a losing battle against your hormones which are insisting that a belt of fat around your belly would be a must have accessory

So here I am… a slug

But a slug who can now do something towards not being such a fat, inactive slug.

Where I’ve been and where I’m going

You may be surprised to hear, in view of my woeful inability to make regular posts to this blog that I actually achieved pretty much all of my goals in 2016. Let me rephrase that, I achieved almost all of the exercise related goals but fell down miserably on the weight targets… but then once you miss one weight milestone it can be difficult to get back on track unless you make them flexible…

The only exercise goal I did not achieve was the ambition to cycle to the train station regularly but failure here was down to circumstances (dropping the Boy off with his grandparents) not being compatible with the train timetable. Hopefully this year the Boy will start being more organised and will be able to walk to the bus stop on his own after having remembered to lock the front door !

I am a Wolf Runner, a Metric Centurion and a Warwickshire Triathlete, I have the medals to prove it and at some point there will be a blog post on here and photographic evidence too.

I have achieved part of the purpose of this blog. In 2016 I got fitter and I think a little bit healthier. The weight has gone down but I hit a plateau and just can’t seem to get past the 11 stone barrier and since the summer I have yoyo-ed between 11 and 11 stone 7lbs.

Part of the problem I think is I lost focus. The idea of the challenges was to find something to keep me incentivised to exercise but I found that instead of exercising to get fit and lose weight I was training to the challenge… and collecting a fine crop of medals although exceedingly gratifying was not the point.  It also failed to impress the Boy or get him enthused about the idea of being outside.

The Man on the other hand is very keen on the idea of cycling to work and after one expensive false start of buying the wrong bike now has quite a sporty roadbike/hybrid… The garage is suffering from N+1++ a number of our bikes are recondition/rebuilds which makes me quite happy. The Raleigh Candice is finished save for some new bar tape, the Boy has a reconditioned Trek as a temporary bike and we have promised him a new bike when he is a little taller (he is growing like a weed at the moment).

So I am going to make things easier on myself this year. The only target is to lose 1lb a week and to weigh at least 1 stone less this time next year…

There are some fun challenges along the way such as a run from Lands End to John O Groats (no, not really…I have a living to earn) plus a walk from the Shire to Rivendell and then either to  the Mines of Moria or Mount Doom…

There will be photos.. there will be retrospective blog posts about last year… there will be bike related musings… after all there are now 6 bikes in the garage (only 2 belong to me) and there will be some thoughts on eating (as if I genuinely want to get down to 10 stone I will have to address what I eat as well as what I do)… in short, there will be a lot more blogging than last year… although that’s not going to be difficult !

Back out There aka wet ride and puddles

I still haven’t made a decision about the Nightride in June. My unofficial plan said I needed to complete a 10 mile cycle ride by the 31st January if I was going to take part… except the weather was against me on the 31st January so I resolved to complete a 12 mile cycle by 7th February (on the grounds that I manage over 10 miles in Spin Class).

But come the following weekend the UK was in the grips of Storm Imogen so instead of cycling to the gym on Sunday I drove… besides I had received a tentative suggestion from the men of the house that maybe we did a family bike ride over the weekend.

So once at the gym I knew I had to nail the 12 miles so I set too on the stationary bike using one of the cross country programmes and quickly, but exceedingly boringly soon racked up sufficient milage…

Shame as the journey home was dry and peaceful the rain having finally stopped and it would have been an interesting ride as large parts of the countryside were submerged under water…

Later on Sunday we manage to get out as a family…

And there was much splashy puddle fun… in fact it was great being outside again… until I got another flat !

And then… whilst we were mending it… the heavens opened again

It may be some time before I get the Boy out again… cycling through puddles may be fun but being rained on is just not his cup of tea…


So despite the fact I haven’t been blogging I have been keeping to my weekly weigh in… mostly… some weeks admittedly I don’t bother if I know the print out will not make happy reading and will just make me feel more down than I might be that week…

If I do a certain amount of exercise and keep and eye on the calories then the weight will go down… if I fall down on my vigilance or have a week where too many nights conclude with the TV and a bottle of wine then I know it will go up…

There is no secret to this for me, there is no quick fix, it’s just exercise, count calories and stay away from the red wine…

It was unfortunate that my busy stressful period coincided with the end of Dry January… and I know that losing weight is easier if alcohol is not involved… not because of the amount of sugar in wine but because alcohol reduces your will power and “less will power leads to snacking… snacking leads to suffering” (as Yoda didn’t say)…

However I don’t see the point in cutting out alcohol completely unless I am planning on cutting it out long term because otherwise the weight will just pile on once the abstinence is over… I have to find a “lifestyle” and habits that work as a permanent solution.

I do try different things to keep things interesting and as a way of motivating myself… these however fell by the wayside when things got busy but I would like to start that up again.

I may have to ditch the “chew your food more” tip as I’m not sure I will ever eat slowly… but I guess less fast may be a start…

My parents banned me from reading at the table so I got into the habit of eating quickly in order to get back to my book…

The idea of eating slowly is so that you stop when you are full and don’t overeat which is a risk if you eat quickly because it takes awhile for your tummy to tell your brain that you are full…

I was also brought up to eat everything on my plate… so maybe the answer is smaller plates, smaller portions

SO the weight then, well it went up and down and up and down but generally the trend has been going down so now instead of yo-yoing between 11st 7lb and 12 stone I am bouncing mostly between 11st and 11st 7lb so I guess that’s a win

Anyway, as at the end of week 13  it was 11st 6lb the strange thing is that the gym scales now say I am 1m 67cm… I seem to be getting taller rather than slimmer…

It’s not how far you have to go that is the problem…

… but knowing that you have to cycle back!

I thought I would bring things up-to-date here and tell you about how I am getting on with at least some of my plans for this year… it does mean that this blog becomes slightly out of sequence as I will go back and cover some of the things I have done in the last 6 months at some point…

About 12 months ago I took my first ever selfie to commemorate my first bike ride in a couple of years… this is how I looked after managing 4.5 miles in about 35-40 minutes – (I managed to walk/run the same distance 11 months later in just over 60 minutes and felt less tired which just shows how unfit I was).

This is I think my 4th ever selfie taken 12 months later and shortly after I arrived at work one Friday…2015-05-10 09.49.06

I had just cycled from home to work some 25 odd miles in 2 hours 45 minutes… not completely representative of my state as this is some 10 minutes later after I’d changed and sat down to have a coffee…i20160527_091718

I had been too distracted to take a photo immediately I arrived as I was having trouble working out how my new D lock worked…

And this is how I looked some 8 hours later after I had repeated the journey back… still look quite happy and not as tired out as the first picture…


I was tired though but exhilarated…

I think I was lucky that Google maps sent me along quite a green and pleasant route, there were lots of country roads and quiet backroads through parts of towns (Warwick, Kenilworth)…my Mum thinks country roads are more dangerous as cars hurtle down them at speed but I think I would rather take my chances with them than some of the busier town roads… certainly the bit of the journey when I was actually in Solihull was dirty, dustier and noisier.. the air just tasted different and not in a nice way…

The journey back was the more stressful as it was rush hour out of Solihull and a Friday night at that so it started early… going to work it was almost as if I was the only person on the road for a lot of it as I started early (6am) in order to reach work at a reasonable time.

Very grateful to the Man, the Boy and my parents for helping out and covering the usual Friday morning drop off arrangements for the Boy which usually prevent me from being able to set out so early…

The Ups and downs of the Heart Rate Monitor

My Fitbit is one of those that monitors your heart rate… how accurate this is god only knows but whether it is accurate or not I think there are benefits of being able to see how your heart rate changes during activity and during periods of sloth.

I felt quite chuffed when I first got my Fitbit to discover that my resting heart rate was actually quite good…it was between 57-64 bpm. Not bad I thought for a fat girl who has only really been exercising since the summer and only taking a real interest in being healthier since October (so 3 months at that time).

I started to get quite alarmed therefore when I noticed an upward trend in my resting bpm from about the end of January. Pretty much every day from the end of January until the end of February I saw a daily increase in the resting level… and then it plummeted back to early January levels.

It was only when it started to go up again that I realised what the trigger was… stress… and some of the things that go hand in hand with stress. It was at the end of January that things started to get stressful at work as I started to prepare for the Court case at the end of January…

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post as I got busier and more stressed my exercise went out of the window. I drank more coffee (caffeinated), cut back on the amount of water I drank (because I didn’t have time to leave my desk to get it), started missing lunch and not going for a walk or a run as I was working through.

It also coincided with the end of dry January and my intake of red wine went up quite a lot too…

Up and up it went until the date of the court case… and then 2 days after it dropped…

Googling later it revealed that yes stress, alcohol and not drinking enough water can dramatically affect your resting heart rate…

So there you are then… lesson learned… or perhaps not as since the end of April I’ve been dealing with a Judicial Review… once again diet and exercise have gone out the window and my resting heart rate has gone up.

I’m not going to let it happen a third time.


Week 4 Statistics

I wasn’t expecting today’s weigh in to be good news as not only did I take a week off from exercising, but I have in part been neglecting the healthy eating AND the wheels fell off the dry January wagon in a big way on Tuesday.


The lack of physical activity was partly due to the indecision I explained in my previous post but partly because my focus this week has been on work.

I am in court with one of my cases at the end of February and I have spent the last week analysing our case and ensuring we have answers to every argument raised.

Past experience tells me that when I have to think hard about work for long periods then I need  to avoid activities that give me too much solo thinking time such as running or lunchtime walks. Admittedly I can block some of it out by sticking the headphones on and listening to music but it is best just not to do it.

The same applies to the healthy eating side of things but so much

This post was drafted at the end of January but I didn’t get around to posting it because of the things I mentioned in the previous post…

Pressing the Reset Button

It’s been awhile…I didn’t mean to be away for so long… it’s just when things get busy it’s hard to keep all the balls in the air…

When you are part of a family, yes you have a right from time to time to do what you want to do but you also owe certain obligations to that family, to pull your weight, do your share of the chores and make sure the household functions… kinda like society in miniature !

I try not to let my keep fit/health goals impinge too much on family life… I also try very hard not to let work interfere with family life or family intrude into the work sphere…

…and when things get busy or stressful then something has to “give”…

I think I have mentioned before that I’m a lawyer. Well before I went “in-house” I used to be a high street litigation lawyer; mostly personal injury and debt action but also breach of contracts, general disputes and occasionally a repossession.

We don’t tend to do much civil litigation ourselves at work (except judicial reviews), mostly disputes get farmed out to external solicitors but occasionally for small claims court stuff or possession claims I have to revive my litigation skills.

Anyway as I got to the end of the Couch25k my work life suddenly started to get busy. This was the end of January. I had started preparing for the court hearing due at the end of February of the case I’d started last October to remove some trespassers from our land. Trespass cases are meant to be over and done within about 10 days of issuing… not this one though as at the hearing last November our case was adjourned for a longer hearing…

Suddenly out of nowhere a firm of solicitors started writing to me claiming they were acting on behalf of one of the Defendants who had somehow managed to get Legal Aid

After that it all got very complicated and very very busy. I had so many things that needed to be resolved. And well, the one rule in my job is that litigation comes first. You have to meet the Court imposed deadlines, no excuses.

I also found that I couldn’t run or cycle or do any activity which would mean I would spend long periods of time inside my own head because I’d start to think and worry and fret about things… I guess the answer would have been to find someone to run with… instead I reduced my activity to spin class only

So yes pretty much the diet, exercise and trying to be health took a bit of a nose dive… I managed to do just about enough to mean that when I did my first 5k run at the beginning of March it wasn’t a complete disaster and I managed to avoid piling on loads of weight… it’s just it wasn’t coming off very quickly…

We were back in Court at the end of February which solved many things but we have still ended up with yet another court date (July) and a long list of directions which has meant me being busy for most of March and April but it hasn’t been quite so bad…

… and then just when I thought things were getting back to normal I ended up with a judicial review to deal with on another matter…

I will try and catch up over the next few weeks PLUS I finally have some updates on what is happening with the Raleigh Candice I was meant to be rebuildingV