April was a transitional month in my Fat to Fit drive. A two-week family holiday marked the end of phase two of my programme and the beginning of phase three.
Here’s my usual round-up of what I’ve been up to over the past month and how I’m refocussing my goals going forwards.
Monday 1st April
My first Parkrun feels very real now. Ahead of Saturday, Isaac and I headed to Greenham Common to familiarise ourselves with the course.
I didn’t feel my best physically. And my mood wasn’t helped by being regularly overtaken by faster runners. But I gritted my teeth, ignored the lactic acid and clocked 38:49 – a new personal best.
We’ll see how I fare running in a crowd but I’ll be disappointed if I don’t beat my 40-minute goal. Isaac will be a little faster than me, so he’ll hopefully be a good pace-maker.
Friday 5th April
Arrgh! Parkrun is tomorrow. My legs feel like lead. I have a headache. And I think I’ve caught a cold.
I shouldn’t be worried. I know I can run 5km, even when I’m not 100%. So why am I feeling so nervous?
I bet I have a nightmare about running in treacle up a 20% hill tonight.
Saturday 6th April
WE DID IT!
It was cold. I was tired. (With hindsight, clocking 27k steps yesterday was not ideal preparation. Duh.) But we showed up at Parkrun and we finished.
You can read more about our run here.
I finished 493rd out of 535 participants in 37:10, 1½ minutes quicker than Monday and just 15 seconds behind Isaac. My target was 40:00 but I also had a stretch goal of 37:30, which I’d set to one side after my knee flared up last month. But I managed to beat it anyway.
Isaac and I have decided we’re going to do one Parkrun a month and focus on improving our times. We’ve already pencilled in May 11th.
Friday 12th April
Hello from sunny Florida!
I will admit that I brought my running gear on holiday more in hope than expectation. But I set my alarm for 6:30am and did a 2km run to blow the cobwebs away, followed by a quick gym session. Mission accomplished.
It’s definitely easier to motivate yourself when it’s 20 rather than five degrees outside and you’re running under blue skies and palm trees, though!
Saturday 13th April
Another day, another early alarm, another 2km run and gym session. I’ve never run on consecutive days before, so this is a new, confidence-building experience for me.
Monday 15th April
Four days in a row! I’ve extended my last two runs to 20 minutes and I’m coping fine. In fact, I’ve been getting steadily faster.
Daily repetition isn’t the best way to train and I need to take care to avoid injury. So I’m now going to take a day or two off to let my body recover. But it’s been a good challenge to see how far I can push myself. It makes me realise how far I’ve come over the past three months. I should have more faith in my own fitness than I give myself credit for.
I’ve also been moderating what I eat while we’ve been out here. That’s a challenge in the land of beige food, where ‘all you can eat’ is practically a religion. But we’ve been staying in a villa rather than a hotel, so we’re mostly eating fresh food. And while everyone else is having sandwiches and bagels for lunch, I’ve been preparing my own salads.
That’s not to say I’m eating only rabbit food. I’ve been enjoying crispy bacon and pancakes for breakfast. We’ve had a couple of McDonald’s after big days when we’ve just needed to get the kids fuelled and into bed. And my consumption of wine, chocolate and ice cream has definitely increased. But I’m doing it in a conscious way, avoiding excesses.
I can see the proof in my daily blood glucose readings, which are actually slightly lower than usual.
Sunday 21st April
Our last full day in Orlando and my last running/gym session of the holiday. I’ve been able to do at least an hour’s exercise on nine out of 11 mornings here. Even though I’ve been getting up early, I’ve enjoyed setting a different routine to what I do at home. Having a structure helps. I get up; I go.
Usually when we’re away for two weeks I’ll return home 7-8 pounds heavier. No way is that happening this time.
Tuesday 23rd April
We landed back at Heathrow just before 9am and got home at 11am. By 1pm, I had signed up for a week’s trial at our local gym. Strike while the iron is hot, eh?
Phase three of my Fat to Fit programme is under way.
Wednesday 24th April
First gym session done.
It’s been 14 years since I last went to the gym and I’ve always been a bit intimidated by weights. But it’s what I need to improve my strength and better stabilise my week knee. So here we are.
And it was fine. I went after work. While I set about running on the treadmill, I was able to take a peek around to get a feel for the place. There were a few people lifting some seriously impressive free weights at the far end of the gym. So I did feel a bit feeble when I then set the weights machines to comparatively light loads. But that’s my reality. I’m not looking to enter any competitions and my strength will build over time. I’m not competing against the body-builders, only against myself.
One session was enough to convince me that I’d be happy working out here regularly. Looks like I’ll be investing in membership once my week is up. Yet another expense in the pursuit of fitness!
Thursday 25th April
The moment of truth: the post-holiday weigh-in. I was 13 stone 9 before we left. This morning: 13-7, a loss of two pounds.
I’m over the moon.
Sunday 28th April
I did my third gym session today and pushed hard on the treadmill. Maybe a little too hard.
I’ve started to introduce intervals to increase my speed and cardio capacity. I currently run at around 8.5kph. So I’m doing a combination of timed bursts on the treadmill at higher speeds, with a walking break to recover in between. I find this easier to do on a treadmill as I can control speed and timing more precisely.
So far, so good. I’m steadily raising the bar for myself. I’m already confident I can complete my next Parkrun in closer to 35 rather than 37 minutes.
But as I was warming down, I could feel the top of my right Achilles tendon tightening up. A couple of hours later, it was sore. Nothing too untoward, but a gentle reminder to stay patient and not overdo it.
So for the first time in a couple of months I’m going to ease up for a few days. It will do me good to take a break, recover and pause to appreciate my progress to date. There’s a lot to be pleased about!
Progress this month
Phase two of Fat to Fit is now complete.
I started out six months ago, tipping the scales at 16 stone 8. By New Year, I had lost 18 pounds and since then I’ve shed a further 25. That’s 43 pounds in all – far more than I ever dreamed possible.
I’m now at the point where I could still lose another ten pounds – but I don’t need to. My blood glucose levels reflect this. They have stayed at pre-diabetic levels consistently since Christmas. (My annual review is due in a few weeks. I’m hoping I’ll get approval to reduce my medication again.)
Going forward, while I’m going to keep an eye on my weight I won’t be setting targets. If I can maintain my current level, I’m happy.
Instead my primary targets for phase three are all fitness-related. I have three qualitative goals, as follows:
- Improve my overall body conditioning, particularly my weak left knee.
- Play in the Oxford City veterans’ team at the Oxford summer korfball tournament on August 3rd.
- Complete the South London Tough Mudder 5K on October 5th.
That gives me key milestones three and five months away to keep me focussed.
I’m adjusting my quantitative goals too. I’ve been monitoring my monthly walking/running distances for over a year and making huge improvements. However, now I’m doing more work on treadmills and the cross-trainer, these distances aren’t included. So rather than count kilometres, I’m counting steps going forwards. I’d already set a goal of six million steps in 2019 and I’m nearly 300k steps ahead of schedule so far. Here’s my full list of quantitative targets:
- Six million total steps in 2019.
- Complete ten Parkruns – an average of one every four weeks.
- Run a 5km Parkrun in 30 minutes.
- Go to the gym at least twice a week. Excluding our summer holiday and a few days for Christmas, I make that 68 sessions by the end of the year.
So those are my targets for the rest of 2019. Phase three of Fat to Fit will take me through to our summer holiday in late August and I will reevaluate then. Let’s go!