Thursday, October 13, 2005

Il pleut sur la ville

Maybe it’s silly, but I always feel reluctant to do a sad post. In a way, writing a post that said “I’m really down today” might make it official, whereas if I don’t write it down, I hope I’ll be able to move on quicker and get to the stage where, when I think back to it later, I’ll wonder what all that was about and tick myself off for being a drama queen.

So: I’m feeling better now. This could be something to do with having had enough sleep the past couple of nights. For several nights in a row I had been still awake at three (or later) in the morning, which is Not Good. The next day, all is gloom. I can’t concentrate, my head hurts, I turn into a grumpy cynic and am convinced nobody likes me. (I have been a bit lonely recently, but it is entirely my own fault.)

Ever since the nights started to draw in and the mornings began to get darker, I’ve had difficulty getting out of bed. Not that I’m ever a morning person, but it just seems less painful in summer, particularly as the temperature difference between bed and room isn’t so great. (Not that my bedroom is particularly cold, but it feels cold by comparison with bed.) How on earth do people who work out in the mornings do it?

I try not to be a night owl. The world is not set up for the nocturnal, and it’s a pity to waste daylight. And what with work, I’ve been tired in the evenings, so shouldn’t have had any trouble getting to sleep – except that it doesn’t work like that. But having slept through my alarm on various occasions last week, and on Monday, this couldn’t go on.

On Monday night I took extreme measures. That is to say, I took a hot-water bottle and a cup of hot milk to bed with me, before midnight for once. Such a rock’n’roll lifestyle I have. Once there, I read a couple of chapters of Dorothy L. Sayers – I’ve read all her books so often now that they are infinitely soothing – and actually managed to have the light off in about 20 minutes. Wow.

Same measures last night, with the result that I woke up at seven BEFORE THE ALARM. And I felt fine. This doesn’t happen. As a result, I had time to have porridge and a cup of coffee and was in work by 8.15. Tell me I can keep this up…

Another disadvantage to not getting enough sleep is that I tend to make poor food choices to perk myself up – drink too much coffee, and eat more than I really need to. If you never wake up properly, you’re sluggish and therefore cold, too.

So eating has not been miraculously healthy recently. In particular, last night’s tea was a bit of a carb-and-saturated-fat-fest: pasta parcels, cheese sauce, Müllerice (reduced-fat Müllerice, but still). And broccoli, but I don’t think that exactly counteracts the rest of it.

The gym, on the other hand, has been fine. I seem to be well in the routine of 20 minutes on the treadmill (intervals), Nautilus, 20 minutes on the cross-trainer, three days a week. Three sessions I can do, but various people I know who are losing much faster than me do five, and now I’m worried I should be doing that. But I don’t really think I can, unless I learn to get myself up earlier in the morning (see above).

Now that I’ve got used to it, I like the cross-trainer better than the stationary bike. Music is evidently the key – once I get in the rhythm, I can just dance along (well, provided it isn’t some annoying rap track with a slow beat. Or “Beautiful”. Why, remind me, did I not just change the channel or pull my headphones out of the socket? That never occurred to me at the time).

Most of my weights on the machines have reached a plateau now, where I can do 12 with a bit of effort, but can’t do the next level up. The exception is the leg press machine, which is still moving. I’ve got to 275 pounds on that now, which seems utterly ridiculous. But cool. I don’t know what a sensible target is on that, though. Apparently if you’re doing squats, your own bodyweight is a good target, and leg presses are only half as difficult… which would suggest you should be aiming to leg press twice your bodyweight? That doesn’t sound very likely.

Logically enough, the machines I’m making least progress on use the muscles I have most trouble with – the thighs and upper arms. I know that there are muscles in my thighs under the squish, but my upper arms seem to be doing nothing despite assiduous bicep and tricep work. I actually seem to have more muscle in my forearms – is this normal?

My calves are rock-hard these days from all the leg work, which is nice, but also discouraging. Because one thing I’d really like is to be able to wear knee-high (or at least three-quarter) boots. Flat riding-style boots. I’ve wanted some of those since I can remember, and I could never find any that fit because my calves are just too chunky. There are wide-leg ones available, but there's not so much choice of style (and yes, I may have a slight issue there. I want normal legs...)

So now the calves appear to be solid muscle and although they look better, they’re still chunky. Other bits of me have slimmed down – my ankles have, my waist certainly has. But there may be nowhere for my calves to go. “Maybe you should do fewer leg presses,” my sister suggests, and yes, there is a certain logic to that. But nooo… I don’t want to. Muscle burns fat, right? So if I lose muscle, I’ll lose fat more slowly, and I don’t want to do that, because it isn’t exactly evaporating at the moment.

There may be no answer to this one.

I still haven’t booked a free-weights induction.

I saw Serenity at the weekend, without knowing a thing about it except that Beth recommended it, and it was fantastic. Crouching Zombies, Hidden Star Wars. I could geek on for ages, but I won't unless someone posts a comment about it. G'wan.

It is extremely wet in Edinburgh, but I’m quite cheerful.

I'm going to go and buy some flaxseed now.


ravyn said...

i'm glad you're making progress with the weight loss. i need to do the same. It's been harder in recent weeks because i sprained my heel in September (and i was just starting to feel a real improvement in my walking, finally!). That has been pretty discouraging, climbing stairs is painful, and standing, or walking, at the wrong angle makes the heel pain flare up again.

But i'm trying to stay off my feet and let it heal.

Email me girl, i can't find your address in this mess of an office!

Rosemary Grace said...

5 days a week is going to get more results than three, but three days a week is still PROGRESS!

I also have the chunky-calf syndrome, I think lots of boots were designed for people with barely any calf muscle at all.

Regarding the arms, I think free weights will help, you'll be working support muscles as well, the nautilus isolates only the main workhorse muscle. Arm exercises with hand held weights are EASY, it's only really the chest press and loaded squats that are scary free weights exercises.

BethK said...

I have the same arm and calf issues. It took me a while but I did come around to the idea that since I carry less fat in my forearms than I do in my upper arms it makes sense that they seem so much more muscular than my biceps/triceps. The muscle will be revealed in all its glory once you send more of the squish over it packing.

I have to get up at 5:10 every morning in order to get to work in time to beat the traffic. Yes, this time of year that does truly suck. And I'm a morning person! I can't imagine how hard it must be for someone who's naturally a night owl.

I'm almost afraid to ask, but what's Müllerice. I'm only asking because I haven't seen it in my local UK imports store food section so I know I can't get addicted to it.

I'm so glad you enjoyed Serenity. The next step in the madness is that you need to see the Firefly DVD's. I also really liked the movie, but the characters are much better drawn in the series.

K said...

RG - That does it, I am going to start doing free weights.

Beth - Müllerice is just white rice pudding in a yoghurt pot with sauce at the bottom, made by a company called Müller. There might be a few trace vitamins in the fruity ones, but probably not in the custard or caramel. I do not think they are low GI, somehow :(

I got up early again today! Impressive or what? Actually, I think I have my brother to thank. He's a third-year medical student and has been getting up early too this week. I don't know whether it's hearing him moving around, or just that he switches the hall light on, but I've been finding it much easier to wake up.

Thanks for the reassurance about the arms... and I expect the Firefly DVD won't be too hard to find.