As it was for many others, August was peak holiday season for us. So my focus was less on improving my fitness than maintaining it. Or, at least, not doing too much damage while we were away.
The start of the month also saw the first of two big personal milestones for the year that I’ve been building towards.
Here’s how my August went.
Saturday 3rd August
Well, that went about as well as I could have expected. I just about made it through the Oxford korfball tournament. My cardio fitness held up fine but my legs couldn’t cope with the demands of explosive stop/start running and changes of direction.
Every ligament in my knees is screaming blue murder at me. I suspect I won’t be able to assess the full extent of any damage for a day or two. As it is, even climbing in and out of the car afterwards was a struggle.
But you know what? It’s a virtuous kind of pain. Given my limited training over the past couple of months due to my ankle problems, I’m pretty pleased. And my body is telling me exactly what I need to improve for the Tough Mudder 5K in October. So I’m hurting but happy.
Monday 5th August
Two days later – and exactly two months until Tough Mudder.
I’ve now evaluated the state of my body and what I need to work on over the next few weeks. The most serious injuries are to my knees. Both posterior cruciate ligaments are slightly sprained so I won’t be able to run for a week or more. Other than that, it’s just minor muscular tweaks which are already receding. Hence I’ve been back in the gym today focussing on upper body strength.
I said in last month’s update that I viewed last weekend as the transition between phases three and four of my Fat to Fit programme. That’s definitely the case. I’ve put one big tick in a box; one to go. So the plan from now until Tough Mudder is to focus on upper body strength and general explosiveness. I don’t need to worry about endurance, which is more or less there already.
Here we go …
Friday 9th August
A momentous day. I’ve now adjusted my daily calorie goal in MyFitnessPal to align with a target of maintaining rather than losing weight.
In truth, I stopped focussing on weight loss a couple of months ago. During that time I’ve managed to keep it stable. I did add a couple of pounds back on but overall I’m feeling confident that my occasional big food days are offset by my healthier routine.
Now that I’m prioritising strength over weight, I’m even deliberately eating more sometimes. On gym days, I’m upping both proteins and carbohydrates to facilitate building muscle – chicken, protein shakes, plus measured amounts of chocolate and cheese thrown in as a treat. On less active days I’m limiting carbs to keep both my calorie intake and blood glucose down and encourage fat-burning.
Mixing things up keeps things varied and interesting while allowing me to still indulge in small treats. So far it seems to be working.
Tuesday 20th August
I’m clocking off for the next two weeks while we head off on our summer holiday. I’m going to enjoy my food in moderation and not worry overly about my weight or how many grams of protein I’ve eaten that day.
It’s a good test of my new lifestyle approach. When we went to Orlando at Easter I was still firmly in my weight-loss mindset. Now that I’m more in maintenance mode, I’m hoping I can come back having gained no more than a couple of pounds. I can worry about losing any excess weight when we get back.
Wednesday 28th August
We’re just over halfway through our holiday and I think it’s going pretty well so far. Although, of course, the acid test will come when I step on the scales after we return home.
We’ve been indulging in breakfast pastries and plenty of Belgian beer but that’s been offset by daily morning walks to various local bakeries and lots of walking in general, which we always try to do on holiday. I’m averaging around 22,000 steps a day, versus my regular 17,000. So that’s helping to burn off the extra carbs and calories. It doesn’t feel like I’m putting on any significant weight and my blood glucose levels are still under control. So far, so good.
Tuesday 3rd September
We got home last night and I’ve hit the ground running as I start marking off the days until Tough Mudder.
This afternoon I did my first gym session in 2½ weeks. I wasn’t sure how I’d fare but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, I’ve lost a tiny bit of strength, but less than I expected. And I also tried running for the first time in exactly a month. I’d been aiming for a gentle 2km to test the water but in the end I continued on to 3km and was reasonably comfortable. So it feels like Parkrun is back on the agenda again after a long hiatus.
Equally pleasingly, I’ve snapped more or less straight back into my food routine. I’ll weigh myself tomorrow to see whether I need to aim to lose any weight over the next month and take it from there.
Wednesday 4th September
13 stone 2! That means I’ve returned from our two-week holiday at exactly the same weight, which is a testament to the robustness of my new approach.
I’ve got 31 days to go until Tough Mudder and for, the first time since my ankle flared up, I’m feeling confident again. My head’s in the right place, I’m focussed and I’m raring to go.
Progress this month
With my mindset shifting to ‘maintenance’ and knowing that we were going on holiday, I was expecting August to be more about damage limitation than progress. So the fact that I ended the month at the same weight at which I started was a big positive.
August was a good month for me in terms of exercise too, with a higher than average number of steps. I’m currently on track to hit my goal of six million for the year in the first week of December.
Two sessions a week at the gym should keep me on target, while I’m hoping to get back to Parkrun in the next week or two. If I don’t complete ten by the end of the year (I now need to do one pretty much every other week) I can live with that. However, I am still aiming to break the 30-minute barrier. I think that’s doable with some focussed effort. But that can wait until after Tough Mudder.
So overall it’s been another solid month. In a month’s time I’ll be preparing to take on Tough Mudder, and then I’ll revise my plan to take me through to the end of the year.