Fat to Fit: July update

Fat to Fit

It’s month seven of my Fat to Fit programme. After several frustrating weeks where my fitness efforts were hampered by a sprained ankle, I’ve managed to regain momentum and start making progress again.

As a result, July was a much more satisfying month than June. Here’s a round-up of what I’ve been doing and thinking about.

Tuesday 2nd July

It’s seven weeks since I first sprained my ankle. Seven weeks during which I’ve reinjured myself twice and agonised over every little ache and pain around the joint.

Today I ran for the first time in a month. Not much: just three low-speed intervals on the treadmill. But it’s a start.

Assuming I don’t suffer an adverse reaction, I have a month to ease myself into better shape for the Oxford korfball tournament. Push hard, but not so hard I risk another setback. It won’t be as much as I was hoping for – but it will have to do.

Friday 5th July

I’ve been a bit lax over the last month in terms of exercising in between gym sessions. However, my motivation to do more at home has kicked back in this week.

In the short-term, I’m focussing on stabilising my dodgy ankle and improving lower-body explosiveness. But I want to do this without too much high-impact work that might over-stress my ankle. To help with this, I’ve invested in a balance board. Which so far has only reminded me how bad my balance is and resulted in the kids laughing at me. A lot.

Friday 12th July

I’m on course to top 130k steps this week, having failed to reach 120k in each of the last five weeks. It’s more than the numbers, though. That drive to add an extra half-kilometre on to walks or do a cross-trainer session on non-gym evenings has returned.

Easing back into running is going well too, and I’m steadily ramping up my efforts. I’m still some way short of being able to run 5km confidently again but that can wait.

Sharp bursts of acceleration and deceleration are what I’ll need in three weeks’ time. Hence my current programme of interval training as opposed to endurance building.

I’m aiming to work up to doing twelve 30-second intervals at 13kph, with 30-second recovery periods. It’s 20 years since I was capable of that level of intensity but it’s a good benchmark of where I need to get to. Having that goal helps me stay focussed.

Sunday 14th July

There is one word in the English language that is guaranteed to put a dent in my health and dieting efforts: buffet.

We had arranged to meet up with friends for lunch, which we combined with a reward for the kids for all getting excellent end-of-year school reports. So we hit Cosmo in Oxford and I proceeded to – what’s the right euphemism here? – eat more than my money’s worth.

By my estimation, I surpassed 3,000 calories. That’s essentially 150% of my daily calorie target in a single meal. Oops.

But am I feeling guilty about it, knowing that the scales will betray my indulgence tomorrow morning? No, not for a moment. The odd blow-out doesn’t ruin my plan; it’s part of the plan. Taking care of what I eat during the week gives me permission to enjoy weekends. Life is for living, right?

Wednesday 17th July

One side-benefit I’ve noticed during the current heatwave is that being 50 pounds lighter means I don’t get as hot and sweaty as I used to.

It’s as if I’ve suddenly taken off a heavy winter coat. Last summer, I’d go out for a gentle 25-minute stroll and come back dripping in perspiration. Now I’m walking for twice as long at a brisker pace and coming back with just a light sweat.

The flip side, I now realise, is that I felt the cold more than I ever used to during the winter. But as trade-offs go, I’ll happily take that.

Monday 22nd July

The scales don’t lie. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been over-indulging food-wise and slackening off exercise-wise, and the numbers back up the visible evidence of my bloated waistline.

That’s okay insofar that I’ve earned a little time off to enjoy life a little after months of relentless dedication. But the Oxford korfball tournament is now just 12 days away. Time to get back on the wagon and focus.

After three weeks of increasing the workload on my ankle, it’s holding up okay. So I’m feeling more confident about pushing my limits and ramping up my intervals. My goal of twelve times 30 seconds at 13kph is definitely within reach.

Best of all, after a spell where going to the gym had started to feel like an obligation, I’m starting to enjoy it again. That always helps.

Wednesday 24th July

Done it! Twelve half-minute intervals at 13kph. Now what?

Monday 29th July

We were away camping with friends at the weekend, so there was much over-indulgence on both the food and alcohol fronts.

That’s okay. As I’ve said, life is for living. But I do need to figure out how to maintain some semblance of moderation when faced with a barbecue or a buffet. I still have a tendency to binge-eat. One big food session can take me a week or more to burn off.

That’s not to say I should feel guilty about enjoying myself occasionally – I don’t, at all – but I could do with curbing some of my worst excesses to mitigate the damage.

Anyhow, one day at a time. Back to the gym this evening.

Wednesday 31st July

I’ll reserve final judgment until after the korfball tournament but I’m viewing this as the end of phase three of Fat to Fit. Consequently, I’m already thinking ahead to the next phase.

I’m conscious of wanting to avoid falling into a rut. I’m the kind of person who needs a degree of routine but equally I need new goals to keep me going.

With our summer holiday coming up at the end of August and the Tough Mudder 5K in early October, I’m planning on short, sharp efforts for the next couple of months. Provisionally I’m looking to do a two-week burst focussing on upper-body strength before our holiday. That leaves me with four weeks after we get back, when I’m planning to focus on strength and explosiveness for Tough Mudder.

After that, who knows? Maybe I’ll transition into more of a longer-term ‘maintenance’ programme. Or perhaps I’ll decide to lose a few more pounds ahead of the inevitable Christmas over-eating. Or maybe I’ll work towards running a 10k. Who knows? Whatever happens, I’ll set new targets accordingly.

Progress this month

For the first time in nearly a year, I actually put on weight last month. Nothing too dramatic, just a couple of pounds. Having briefly dipped below 13 stone early in the month, I’m now 13 stone 2.

In truth, I’m surprised it’s taken so long. I stopped focussing on weight loss after our Disney World holiday in April and I’ve now settled into a pattern of generally healthier eating punctuated with occasional days off.

And I’m definitely not exercising with the same intensity I was previously. I’m going to the gym two or three times a week and still walking a lot. Less than before, but it feels like a sustainable level that I can maintain longer-term.

So as my calorie intake has crept up and my exercise has reduced slightly, it’s not surprising my body has responded by adding back a little weight. Hopefully it will stabilise again once I’ve adjusted to these new levels, so I’m not unduly worried for now.

With (hopefully) the worst of my ankle troubles now behind me, I’m refocussing on my fitness goals. In terms of steps I’ve picked up the pace again and was comfortably ahead of my 500k target for the month. I’ve been better at getting myself to the gym regularly too, so I’m on track there.

The one area I need to drive harder is Parkrun, which I put on hiatus after my ankle problems started. If I don’t suffer any injuries at the korfball tournament this weekend, I’m hoping to squeeze one in before our summer holiday and then we’ll take it from there. I’ve got time to get back on track.

The biggest task for me over the next few weeks is avoiding further injury and not trying to make up for lost time too quickly. After this weekend, my big focus will be Tough Mudder in three months’ time. So I just need to pace my efforts accordingly – keep making progress but don’t try to eat the elephant in a single bite.

Phase Four, here I come!


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