Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy birthday, dear Square One

This blog is three today! *

It rather astonishes me that I, the most unmethodical person I know, have managed to keep doing anything for three years. Admittedly**, there have been some times when I've posted less frequently than others; there have also been times when the whole Fitness Enterprise has taken a back seat. But I haven't ever forgotten about it, or lost sight of the goal of being fitter and healthier even if I wasn't in a position to make a lot of progress.

This week seems like a good time to look back. I don't usually reflect earnestly on my own progress, but I am going to do so now. Be warned!

When I started doing this, I was fairly unfit. I walked quite a lot - slowly - but I thought of running as a thing I just couldn't do. Though I'd never lifted weights, I was fairly strong, but my cardiovascular fitness was not great. When J and I went for a walk, I would be labouring behind before too long, and if we climbed a hill he'd have to wait for me to catch up.

I don't mean to indicate that physically speaking I'd been a total slug all my life. I didn't enjoy sports at school, but I'd been in a dancing team and ridden horses, and at college I'd cycled all over the place and played in a women's football team. But I'd somehow done all these things while feeling fat and unfit. I was Not Sporty. That was how I defined myself.

I wasn't happy with this state of affairs.

I also wasn't very happy with the way I looked. Although I'd got over the episodes of angst about my body that I used to have as a teenager, and mostly come to accept the way I looked, I was fatter than I was comfortable with. When I was younger, I'd thought changing my level of fitness was impossibly daunting, and then later there were other things I was concentrating on (such as university). But in 2003 I'd started reading diet and fitness blogs, and began to realise it might not be so hopeless after all.

I'd been engaged for about six months, and I knew that if I wanted to lose weight before the wedding, I would have to get on with it. (I felt like a bad feminist for needing such a shallow reason to get started, but there we go.)

I joined a gym. It took me two months to work up the nerve. In the meantime, I got a pedometer and tried hard to get in - was it ten thousand steps a day? I think so. At the time, I had a job that required lots of walking back and forth to the photocopier, and if I got in a walk at lunchtime, that brought me up to the total. But although it was undoubtedly better than nothing, I needed to go up a gear.

To begin with, I only used the exercise bike and the Nautilus machines, which I'd been shown how to use. I was scared of all the other cardio machines: couldn't work out how to get into a rhythm with the elliptical; was scared of falling off the back of the treadmill and landing on my bottom with a thump. The Nautilus machines, however, were my friends. This was something I could do!

I also managed to start weighing myself, which I hadn't done in years and years. I still tend to behave slightly oddly towards the scales - I don't want to know what they say, and put off finding out, but once I weigh myself... it's just a number. Which was just as well, since it was (in this case) a rather higher number than I was expecting.

As you know, this isn't one of those dramatic weight loss stories. These days I weigh about sixteen pounds less than I did then. At my lowest (where I'm trying to get back to now) I could claim to have lost twenty. In the world of the fitness blog, this is very small potatoes.

On the other hand, I have lost at least ten percent of my body fat. I conquered my fear of the treadmill and learned to run. I also learned to brave the mostly-male arena that is the free weights area at the gym. My teenage self would be very surprised.

I also acquired some clothes with horizontal stripes and some skirts that stop above mid-calf, and that's something my teenage self would NEVER have believed.

Tune in later this week for further installments of this enthralling narrative!
While I'm at it, here's a little update on more recent events.

J has come off his anti-depressants with his psychiatrist's approval. They were not having any visible positive effect, just unwanted side-effects, including constant exhaustion.

Since he's stopped, he has, on the whole, felt better. He's been playing music, which he hasn't done much for about a year, and has been cycling and running again. He's been feeling very unfit because the pills made him too tired to exercise, and also made him hungry, which is not a good combination. Fortunately he's naturally slender, but it doesn't do a lot for the self-esteem.

There was a temporary bad patch at the weekend, but this week things have been much better. Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, I have been very busy trying to catch up with the academic work I missed while I was ill. Hence the radio silence this week, and there will probably be a small hiatus after I finish my birthday-week posts. However, during April I will have some time off from academia, and I have some plans... watch this space.

*It is also Pi Day. In celebration we had pies for tea tonight. (Actually, it was not in celebration but a total coincidence. The pies were Linda McCartney vegetarian ones; they're quite good.)

**If I don't admit it, I know
Isabelle will point it out :)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Keeping on

No longer ill, but still a bit weary. I'm going to have an early night tonight.

I'm back to more normal eating - maybe with slightly fewer chocolate biscuits than in the pre-illness week - and so far have not encountered any weird effects. I'm still at 182, though the bodyfat monitor on the scales has gone down to 34%, having been stuck at 36% for longer than I can recall. I know these things are hideously inaccurate, but am choosing to see this as a hopeful sign on the grounds that it must be measuring something.

My new bike is still good (and I must book it in for its after-purchase free checkup). I went right back to riding to work, although I didn't do it today because I went to bed with a mysterious achy calf, which was still there when I woke up.

I'm blaming it on too much time spent sitting at a desk. I still haven't entirely caught on the work for my Archival Ethics unit I missed through being ill; I think the next two weeks (at least) are going to involve a lot more desk-sitting, and there's not much I can do about that, other than get up and stretch periodically. And maybe get a new desk chair that allows a better working posture, which I've been meaning to do for ages - except of course that I don't have time to go and shop for one...

Think how much time to exercise I'll have when I finally finish this degree. (Except that I'll presumably be working full-time, and will no doubt immediately over-commit myself to various activities in the heady rush of not having any homework to do...)

There may have been a point to this post, but I have forgotten what it was. I shall go to bed and read Oxford Today, and re-engage with Archival Ethics in the morning. And maybe go for a walk.

Monday, March 03, 2008

You know how I just had a cold?

I seem to have last posted on the 22nd, eleven days ago. At which point I was moaning about my sinuses.

The cold had gone by Monday, but I continued to feel tired and rather chilly and achy. When I'm tired, I have a tendency to comfort-eat (I was also PMSing, which didn't help a lot). At one point the scales were reading 187, which is not a number I really wanted to see again. On Wednesday, I came home from work, sat down, wrapped a blanket round myself and basically did nothing of any utility all evening. This probably ought to have told me something.

On Thursday, I woke up feeling sort of sick, decided I would feel better once I had had breakfast, had it, went to work and lasted an hour and a half before coming home. Some kind of feverish gastric bug.

What is wrong with me at the moment? Normally I am rarely ill, but this is the third virus of some kind I've had this year (counting the one I started the year with). My immune system must need a boost. Possibly it is stress.*

Fortunately the vomiting was limited to one day, and I've been out of bed and moving around since Saturday (also fortunate, since my brother-in-law was staying with us for the weekend), but I'm still feeling somewhat nauseous if I eat anything too exciting, such as a normal-size meal, as I foolishly tried to do on Sunday. So I'm sort of sticking to the odd bit of dry toast and so forth.

This probably amounts to one of those crash diets you are advised against. I appear to have lost five pounds since Thursday - and I can see the difference, which is really weird. Usually I lose so slowly that I don't notice a thing. It can't all be water, because I've been rehydrating religiously.

I'm a bit worried that if I don't start eating normally soon, my metabolism will go into famine mode, and that when I do go back to normal my body will store everything just in case. But equally I don't want to push my digestion further than it wants to go, since what with all the ailments I've hardly done any MLitt work since pre-cold, and I really do not want to get any further behind.

We'll see what happens... At least I don't have to go back to work until Wednesday.

*J has been having some pretty rough times with his depression lately, which deserve an entry of their own. Several entries, even. That's why posts have been a bit sparse lately, indeed - I wanted to wait to write about it until the situation became a bit clearer. Which it has. I think. Watch this space.