We’re a quarter of the way through 2019 and I’m reaching the end of the second phase of my diet and fitness programme. So how have I done – and what’s my plan for the next phase?
Here are my thoughts and progress for the month of March.
Monday 4th March
I was aiming to do a 4km run tonight. But once I reached 4km I thought, “You’ve come this far, why not just do the fifth kilometre too?” So I did.
And I completed it in just over 39 minutes. Not quick – but still almost a full minute faster than my goal for Parkrun next month.
My legs are really sore, though. I’ve made huge steps forward these past 2-3 weeks. I hope I haven’t pushed too hard too fast.
Tuesday 5th March
Of course, it was always going to be my left knee that let me down.
I tore cruciate ligaments playing American football at university and my knee has never been the same since. I wore a heavy brace for sports after that and never really built up my quad muscles properly again. So it’s always been a bit ‘wobbly’ (to use the technical term).
I woke up this morning with a sore knee which I was unable to push off on properly when going up stairs. That’s me sidelined for the next week, at least. Grrr.
Tuesday 12th March
My knee has been feeling better over the past couple of days so I decided to go out for a test run this evening. I ‘only’ ran for 2.5km.
It amuses me that I now consider this to be a light effort. The first time in my life that I ever ran that distance was three weeks ago. Now it’s no big deal. This fitness thing is a funny mind game. Barely a month ago I was genuinely worried about my ability to run even 2km. Now the thought of doing it doesn’t create so much as a ripple of concern.
Anyhow, no adverse reaction so far. I’m not going to rush back in but it’s good to know I’m on the road to recovery. I’ve made a mental note that, when I get round to joining a gym, strength work on my left knee is a priority.
Sunday 17th March
Knowing that I had volunteered to do a 15km walk with Isaac’s Scout pack today, I set myself a target of a new personal best of 150k steps this week.
It has been hard work. Tiredness has been a constant companion. But I’ve done it. As I type this, I’ve just passed 162k, having achieved 30k in a day for only the second time ever. And now I’m going to sleep!
Wednesday 20th March
One of my favourite things about this programme is that I can now genuinely buy clothes that fit me, as opposed to just buying clothes I fit into.
I’ve lost four inches off my waist and an inch off my neck. I’m now buying slim fit shirts for work and I’ve dropped from a size XXL to L. In a couple of instances, I’m even buying medium-sized clothes. I’ve never done that before.
Okay, it’s costing me a fortune. And I’m still a long way from being fashion model-thin but I’m no longer just ‘that fat guy’ when I look in the mirror. That feels good.
Monday 25th March
Today I passed 35k steps in a day for the first time ever. Before January, my personal best was 26.5k.
Now, though, I’ve achieved 30k-plus on three separate occasions. Seven of the eight times I’ve surpassed 25k have been in 2019, as well as 41 of the 59 days I’ve reached 20k.
This probably explains why my legs feel like lead weights all the time!
Wednesday 27th March
With my first Parkrun just over a week away, I’m trying to squeeze in a couple more 5km runs. Originally tonight I was only going to do a short run with Isaac but he hurt himself at school today and understandably opted out. Which meant the only thing stopping me from doing a long run was my heavy legs.
It takes more than that to stop me these days. I set off, quickly realised I was tired but not that tired, and decided to push on for the full distance. I finished 16 seconds off my personal best but this is still the proudest I’ve been. Instead of waiting for a better day when I was feeling good, I ran anyway and just powered on through.
It’s not easy. Every run is still a struggle. I get to 3km okay but doing the rest requires sheer bloody-mindedness and muscle memory. But I’m doing it anyway. That mental conditioning is just as important as any physical conditioning.
Friday 29th March
This morning I stepped on the scales and they reported my weight as 13 stone 8. I can now officially say I have lost three stone!
I’m chuffed. If you’d told me six months ago that I’d be here saying this today, I’d have laughed at you. But here I am. And I’m laughing for completely different reasons.
Sunday 31st March
I’ve just tried to do the most basic of upper body workouts and confronted reality: I have zero upper body strength. That’s no surprise but, having completed Couch to 5K, it’s an adjustment to find myself at the beginning of a new journey again.
It’s a little dispiriting but I’m also determined to tackle this new challenge. Over the past six months I’ve come so far that I feel more excitement than treipdation.
I know I can do this. And that’s half the battle won already.
Progress this month
I’ve always viewed the first quarter of this year as phase two of my overall programme. Focus on fitness, keep losing weight. Give myself something to celebrate so I can go on our Easter holiday to Disney World guilt-free.
Boom! Job done.
In terms of weight loss, I can feel I’m approaching the point of diminishing returns. Nevertheless, I’ve lost another nine pounds this month. That brings my total so far this year to a whopping 24 pounds; 42 in all since last October. I’ve smashed both my original goal and the new one I set myself last month. Tick.
I’m still a little overweight, no question. But while I would like to lose a bit more – I think I’m capable of getting down to 13 stone – I’m comfortable enough not to set any more weight targets. Whatever happens, happens.
I effectively achieved the last three weeks of Couch to 5K in about a week at the beginning of March by pushing myself harder. 30 minutes’ running. Tick. 5km. Tick.
I just need to complete Parkrun this weekend in under 40 minutes and all my running goals are completed. (And no, I’m not going to aim for a half-marathon next. I’m good, thanks.)
I smashed my monthly walking/running distance target with ten days to spare, finishing on 275km – a new PB. Tick.
For the year, my goal of six million steps remains eminently achievable. I’m currently at 1.67 million, essentially ten days ahead of schedule. Tick.
As we’re on holiday for two weeks this month, I’m not going to set any goals for April. Instead I’m going to enjoy our time off, see how much damage I do in the land of all-you-can-eat brown food and reassess my situation afterwards.
So what does the next phase look like? I’ll be focussing on strength and more explosive fitness rather than weight loss. So I have two new items on my to-do list for when I get back from holiday.
Number one is to join a gym. As I’ve already mentioned, building up my weak knee is a must. But my dramatic weight loss has also exposed my woeful lack of upper-body strength and tone. Where there was once layers of fat, I now have horrific bingo wings and unedifying loose folds of skin around my midriff and shoulders. So that’s going to be a big focus.
And secondly, I’ve signed up to do a Tough Mudder Urban event in early October. This is ideal for me: at 5km it’s shorter than the classic Tough Mudders. Plus I’ll be doing it with a group of friends and fellow bloggers that includes some members of my virtual Fitbit crew. It’s the perfect event at the perfect time for me. I now have something to keep me motivated over the next six months that will keep me focussed on my fitness and strength goals.
I’ll record this as another entry in my growing ‘I don’t recognise myself any more’ collection. I don’t know whether to be excited or terrified. Probably a bit of both. Onwards we go!