June was a frustrating month in terms of my personal fitness programme. There were a number of high points but also several setbacks that forced me to reassess my plans and goals going forward.
Here are my thoughts on the past month.
Thursday 6th June
My ankle has been troubling me for a couple of weeks now. Every time I think it’s getting better, I injure it again. So this morning I went to get it checked out by my GP. She came to the same conclusion I already had: cumulative fatigue and not enough rest on an ankle that also has to provide additional stability for a weak knee.
Take it easy and keep walking but in moderation, she said. So, of course, four hours later I went for a short stroll and my ankle went again, sending me hobbling home for an ice pack.
I hate being injured. A sprained ankle isn’t a particularly debilitating or long-term ailment. But the ease with which I keep reinjuring myself is preying on my mind.
Sunday 9th June
For the first time since early December, I failed to record 100,000 steps in a week.
Yeah, I know it’s only a number. I’m still not happy about it.
Wednesday 12th June
Now my weight and waistline are stabilising, I’m starting to revamp my wardrobe. Being able to fit into slim-fit clothes is a novelty I don’t think I’ll ever tire of. And retail therapy is a good (if expensive) way for me to take my mind off being unable to run.
It’s exciting but also strange. I’m learning how to dress a completely new person, one who is a different size and shape to the one I’ve known throughout my adult life.
On the exercise front, I’ve run a 5km distance just once in the past four weeks. I’m not missing it; it’s has only underlined that I don’t really enjoy running. Don’t get me wrong, I like the endurance that comes with running but I’m not itching to get back to pounding the pavement. A Parkrun here and there is just fine for me.
Sunday 16th June
While I twiddle my thumbs waiting for my ankle to heal, I’m losing my way a little.
To help my recovery, I’m walking less and not running at all. So my steps and mileage totals are down by around 20-25%. All my exercise right now is either weights-based or low-impact/low-intensity, and I can feel my cardio fitness ebbing away.
I’m less focussed on weight loss now and, if I’m being honest, I’m wallowing in a bit of self-pity. So I’m not eating quite as well as I was. (It’s Father’s Day today. We went out to one of those all-you-can-eat buffet places, where I ate everything.)
I’m not putting on weight – but I am lacking a little focus. That’s fine right now. But it’s too easy to slide back into bad habits. I need a short-term goal to aim for. But it’s hard to set a meaningful target while I’m physically limited.
Tuesday 18th June
It’s been nearly two weeks since I last reinjured my ankle. Two weeks during which I haven’t run at all. Two weeks of fretting over every little twinge or hint of soreness. It’s no fun.
The Oxford korfball tournament is just over six weeks away and the clock is ticking. While I can still do weights, my injuries over the past month have cost me in terms of improving my explosiveness and cardio fitness. I have to accept now that I won’t be as fit as I was hoping to be. Wherever I can get to by then will just have to be enough.
The bigger worry in my mind is judging when to resume cardio training. I’m acutely aware that another setback could put my participation in jeopardy. How soon is too soon? How much is too much? That’s the conundrum I need to solve soon. I can’t afford to get it wrong again.
Thursday 20th June
So often in life you hope for the best, only to end up disappointed. So when you have one of those rare days when things turn out better than you ever hoped for, it’s cause for celebration.
Today was one of those days.
I went in for my annual diabetic review. The key test here is called HbA1c, which provides a measure of your blood glucose levels over the past three months. As a diabetic, you’re considered high risk if your score is 70 or more. Conversely, 58 or less is considered low risk. We’re told to aim for between 48-58.
This time last year, my HbA1c was 74: not good at all. I had another test done in December, a couple of months after I started making major changes to my lifestyle: my score was down to a very pleasing 48.
While I’m now not as strict with my diet, I’ve lost a lot more weight since then and made major strides in improving my fitness. So I was expecting to at least have maintained that level – and hoping for a slight drop.
To put that into context, a non-diabetic person has an HbA1c of 20-38. Okay, I’m only at that level with the assistance of drugs. But it means I’m now sufficiently low risk that I can reduce my medication further, a huge win in terms of my longer-term health.
In the past I’d have celebrated something like this by going to town – actually, probably the chippy, and then bought something horrifically unhealthy for dessert. But that was the old me. The new me allowed myself a packet of crisps and bought some strawberries and cream for tonight.
It’s a small thing. But it’s a big thing too.
Sunday 23rd June
I stepped up my walking again a little bit this weekend just to see how my ankle would react. Not well. Sigh.
I’m desperate to start higher impact training again as soon as possible. But I know I realistically need to hold off for another few days at least. Maybe next weekend.
Sunday 30th June
I jarred my ankle last night when I misjudged a step off a kerb. (It’s possible I may have enjoyed a drink or two too many at a rare overnight event.) I could still feel some residual soreness this morning. Nothing major but not good either.
I’m probably being too cautious with it but I just have no confidence in my ankle’s ability to stand up to any sustained hard running or start/stop efforts. So, now what?
Progress this month
With my ongoing ankle problems, it’s been a difficult month in terms of my achieving my fitness goals.
However, it’s been pleasing to see that I’m still losing weight, albeit at a more gradual rate now. And that’s fine, given that I’m allowing myself to eat more while still keeping an eye on my calorie intake. Maintaining the right balance of increasing protein (to preserve and build muscle) and controlling cabrohydrates (to manage blood sugar levels) is second nature now. I still have the odd blowout but it doesn’t ruin my overall effort.
In that context, I’m actually a little surprised I’ve lost four pounds this month. I’m not complaining, mind you. But it feels like the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle have really taken root and I’m more confident about sustaining the progress I’ve made going forward.
My fitness goals have taken a knock but at least I’ve had a good reason for easing off in the short-term. I did significantly fewer steps (473k) this month – but that was deliberate to help my ankle recover. I’ve lost a little ground in terms of my goal of six million steps for the year but I’m still comfortably ahead of schedule. Having had five strong months, I’m not losing sleep over a single sub-par one.
I’m still not running so I may eventually have to reevaluate my targets there but we’ll see how that goes over the next month or so.
And I’ve had to skip a couple of gym sessions because, well, life just gets in the way sometimes. But I’m still motivated and the upside of doing less work on the treadmill means that I’m spending more time doing weights. I’m seeing a visible difference in my musculature as a result. Still no sign of that six-pack, though …
So, a mixed month but hopefully July will see me back on track.