Exercise, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Running


Today I was asked a question about why I don’t talk more about the intricacies of WW in my blog. I thought it was an odd question, but valid all the same. The topics I cover here are based on the thoughts and feelings I go through every week as I make my way into creating healthy habits for a lifetime – sometimes this results in a ‘dear diary’ sort-of effort,  other times it throws up more interesting material. I’m not any sort of WWs ambassador and am far from perfect when it comes to following the plan, but ultimately I still hope to help people along their journey, even if it’s just distracting them from snacking for a few minutes to read my blog. Plus, that’s what you pay your Monthly Pass for.

Keeping on Track

In my last post I talked a little about the day-to-day grind of keeping up motivation and how it can affect us emotionally. Today I had to heed my own words, and thought about my situation (and all of YOU, too). I’ve not had the best week, my eating master plan for work backfired (Hank Marvin at 9 in the morning in the middle of nowhere with nothing to eat), I ended up with surprise guests over the weekend and running opportunities have been limited. I could have easily just written this week off, not gone for a run this morning and called it a do.

I had a pretty good chat with myself – I knew I wanted to go for a run, I knew it would do me good, but I was cosy on the sofa in my slippers with the dogs…  Cordelia popped in as the voice of reason: ‘If you run today/tomorrow and REALLY keep your points in check, you are making less work for yourself next week – even if you gain, it will be less than if you don’t do anything…..’. Shes right. Again. (No wonder Walter doesn’t like her)

It made me think about my actions over the last nine months and what’s changed. My weight loss hasn’t been as rapid as I would have liked, but I’m a dress size smaller, I’m a different shape, I’m a lot fitter and I eat less than I used to. That’s progress. The only reason this has happened is because I’ve kept at it. I could have easily given up over the last six weeks, and although they’ve been crazy, I still had it in my head that I’d be going back to class. There was no questioning or reasoning in my head, that’s just the way it was, and I’m glad.

You only lose the fight if you stop fighting. So fight. And keep fighting. You WILL win eventually if you keep fighting. So fight.

I ran like hell this morning. (Well, as like hell as a 3-stone overweight 5ft 3 Italian with short legs can) I ran my home route with it’s downhill/uphill carry on, and push, push pushed all the way. Normally I try and hold back a bit on the way out so I don’t run out of steam in the last half-mile – today I ran like that little boy in the playground. At one point I was running an eight-and-a-half minute mile (waaay to fast for hills!) and guess what? I regretted it on the way back up.

Fighting Like Hell

My face was hot. The sweat was dripping into my eyes, stinging, and my legs were screaming at me. My high-vis was annoying me. So was my armband. I wanted to take all my clothes off because I was too warm. I wanted to slap the Runkeeper lady and tell her to shut up. I wanted to stop and walk so, so, so bad. At that point, Cordelia started with me again, and I really wasn’t in the mood. Am I going to be sick? No. Am I going to pass out? No. Am I dead? No. Well keep running then.

I repeated this to myself out loud all the way back in the last mile (I’m REALLY glad there’s not many people about where I live!) in amongst things like ‘Dig in!’, ‘Come on, Gem, get a grip!’ and ‘ PUSH!, Nearly there!’

I made it home and literally had everything off before I was inside the porch door. It was then, when I stopped that I realised I’m actually full of willpower, determination and sheer stubbornness. I just need to harness it a bit better. After looking at my Runkeeper, I saw why being determined is good, and why it’s important to keep on fighting. I ran my 5k hill route in twenty-eight minutes and forty-seven seconds. My route best is 30:41. My season best (on a much flatter course) is 30:01.

Holy Moses.

See What Determination Can Do?

Can you imagine how differently my day could have turned out if I didn’t go that run this morning? I’d probably still be languishing in my jammies pinning winter scenes to my Christmas Pinterest board, eating toast and drinking tea.  It’s completely set me up for the rest of the day, and I know my eating and tracking will be spot on. It’s also spurred me on to carry through to weigh-in tomorrow night, and even though there is a possibility that I might put on, I know it won’t be as much as it could have been.

So please,  if you are having an off day/week, do something positive RIGHT NOW and things will change. Take two things from this post today:

  1. ‘I’m not puking, I’m not fainting, I’m not dead, so I’m running’
  2. You’ll only lose the fight if you stop fighting……
Exercise, Running

More Soup and a Funny Morning

As promised, here’s my soup recipe for those of you unfamiliar with the Soup Phenomenon. The basic rule for making WW-friendly soup is to use as many veggies as you can, avoiding potatoes/lentils as a thickener. These cost points. Cauliflower is a great alternative.  The only thing I use in my soup that is not zero ppts is a ham stock cube (1ppt) and a splash of skimmed milk (from allowance). This recipe serves eight, so if you want to be anally retentive, track 1 ppt for every eight bowls 😛 Please bear in mind you need quite a big pot, I use a 5-litre 2-handled job and there’s plenty room to spare. It also freezes well.

Gem’s Nearly-Zero Soup – Serves 8

  • 2 onions
  • 1 large leek
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 stem broccoli
  • 1 cauliflower
  • low-cal oil spray
  • Fresh parsley
  • 1 ham stock cube
  • 3 litres boiling water
  • Spot of skimmed milk
  1. Roughly chop all veg. Spray pot with cooking spray over a medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots and leek, put lid on and sweat for 5-8 mins.
  2. Add broccoli & cauliflower, sweating for a further 5 mins. Dissolve stock cube in 1 litre boiling water and add to pot along with a further 2 litres of hot water (more or less if needed) Season, bring to boil, and simmer for 30-45 mins, until the carrots are soft.
  3. Add  parsley then buzz down smooth with a hand blender. Mix in a splash of milk and Voila! Tasty, standy-up-spoon soup that won’t dent your ppts allowance – Enjoy!

As an aside, I’ve had the oddest morning. I went to meet my work/WW buddy for a walk/jog round the village – I normally jog down to meet her and jog up home. As I plodded down the hill today, I was aghast to see someone running towards me UP MY HILL! Who does that? I thought I was the only nutter….

This man, tall, lean, bearded and well into his sixties looked fresh as a daisy and was going at a fair pace (see? age goes for nothing!) – I have no idea why, but I was grinning like an idiot by the time we met – I think I was quite excited by the prospect of another ‘runner’. Anyway, I said hello and carried on.

Less than 5 minutes later,he’s bypassed me at a great rate of knots coming back down the hill! He asked me if I wanted to run down with him and I then realised I knew him – he was my doctor before he retired (I’d only been to him once.)  My doctor that runs thirty miles a week. My doctor that has never been overweight, smoked or drank in his life. And runs marathons.  By this point, I’d already agreed to run down with him. Uh-oh.

It’s the quickest I’ve run anywhere – I was going pretty hard to keep up with him,  but still managed to have a broken conversation on the way down. Turns out he was running on a knee injury (doctors make the worst patients!) and was ‘only’ doing 4 miles. On hills. At an 8-minute mile. That’s quite quick – I’d have hated to run with him in full health!  He left me at the church where I waited for my friend, and on he went. It was odd and tiring running with him, I’ve got so used to going on my own at my own pace, but left me with a nice feeling afterwards. (My legs, however, did not agree) I also noticed we had the same shoes. Weird.

While waiting at the church, one of my customers from work appeared round the corner. Running. He’s been trying to persuade me to go out with him for ages, but I swear blind this guy is a machine. Anyway, he wouldn’t let me sit and wait, so I ran a lap of the village with him (legs are crying by this point) and arrived back round in time to see my buddy arriving. I was so glad to be able to walk for a while, knowing full well I still had the nasty run uphill home to do. That would have been fine, but work buddy had other ideas. She’s been practising. We ended up jogging most of our route. Damn her enthusiasm!

Needless to say I didn’t make it all the way back up home without walking, but had a pretty good bash at it. Although it was a thoroughly odd morning, it was nice to see that our little village has it’s own little running community that will happily support old, injured, well-versed,chubby, any type of runner as long as they are out there. It’s left me with a warm feeling inside, but not quite that of the searing heat in my poor, tired thighs.

Exercise, Running, Targets

Run Fast For Your Mother

As someone who has run short distances on and off since childhood, it’s natural that running has become a big part of my life again since deciding to change the way I live. I also enjoy swimming, but it doesn’t grip me the same way running does. I LOVE running. It makes me feel free, and I often refer to myself as a ‘little boy who’s been let out in the playground’. Running can also be very emotional (Ask anyone who has ever run a marathon – Yes. There are Tears.) and have lots of ups and downs. I think this is important because it gives your soul a workout too – being healthy is about changing every aspect, not just what you put in your mouth.

Any sport is a discipline, and improves bodily AND mental fitness, something that is very important to me. For anyone on a health journey, find something you enjoy and stick to it. Get really good at it. Set yourself goals. (Write a list!!!!) Make it a habit. I’m very happy to be back running, and don’t ever want it to stop.

The Way It Is

My running progress is coming on brilliantly, but failings in my personality have let me down and left me frustrated. I am notoriously hard on myself and impatient. I have been this way for a long time. I know that anyone looking at me and my ‘jog log’ would say I’m doing just fine, but sometimes you just need to get it out there to admit you can’t have everything yesterday. (I find this very, very hard)

At 22 and BFL, I was a healthy weight and ran 3-4 miles 3 times a week. The last 5k I ran I finished in 22:57 on a flat run in good weather. That is my PB. That has stuck with me forever, because it felt amazing. I felt like a superhero. I am a natural runner, not in build but in posture and stride – the pro’s call it biomechanically correct (this means I use my body efficiently to run) and have a slight under-pronation and a perfect midsole strike. For those of you planning on becoming regular/serious runners, if you don’t know what these things mean, look them up. You’ll thank me for it later- it helps you pick a good pair of shoes.

My problem is now I still think about that time. I need to get to grips with the reality of it and realise things are different now. I’m currently beating myself up over my 5k time and pushing myself far too hard for a time. My distances are coming on beautifully, but I seem to be a lot more patient with that, probably because these distances are new to me and I have no previous markers to go by. The reality is, I’m nearly 8 years older than that time when I ran a 22:57, I’m a smoker, I’m more than three stone heavier and recovering from a knee injury. Not only that, my regular running route is at best undulating, at worst downhill outward and an uphill struggle on the last leg. I currently run a 5k on this route at 32 minutes.

I started back running on the 15th of July and managed just 1.3 miles before I had to walk, and my first full 5k (when I got there) came in at over 34 minutes – it was a bitter pill to swallow. Now, less than 2 months later  I’m up at 5-mile stretches, a lot of which is punishingly uphill, and recently I ran downhill to the village (3.75 mi) walked 2 miles with my WW buddy from work, and still managed to run 2 miles of the uphill stretch on the way home.

I’m awarding myself a victory dance (I imagine this won’t be dissimilar to the Happy Wardrobe Dance)  at 100 miles total (Since I came back from the knee) and plan on rewarding myself at the 6.22 mile-run mark (10k and happening this week) with a new pair of running shoes that are long overdue. This still doesn’t get me any closer to running my PB though. Pffft.

All or Not At All

Anyone reading this might think I’m either a) delusional, b) obsessed, c) my own worst enemy or d) all of the above. Probably all true. But I’m a person who doesn’t do things by halves, and have always been taught to be the best you can be, and do something properly or not at all. This may be why I’m a Jack of All Trades.

The main reason for my times being slow on my 5k run aside from the ridiculously inconvenient lay of the land is not my fitness level (I do consider myself fit for a 30 year old smoker that’s 3 stone overweight – how many of those do you know that can run 5 miles?)  – its the one thing that takes time itself – my weight. The boffins reckon everything else being equal,  for every extra lb you carry, that equates to 2 seconds onto every mile you run.

So, a quick calculation reveals that I am currently 45 lbs from an ideal lean running weight, so 45×2= 90 seconds. A minute and a half. That takes my time for a 5k down to roughly 27 minute-odd on my hilly route if I was slim right now (Could hazard a guess at sub-27 on a flat). I can still improve my fitness, stop smoking, and run more, but I may never see that 22:57 again. That makes me sad.

Which is why, in a bid to distract myself from such a lamentable situation, I’ve set myself another all-or-nothing goal. My 30th Birthday is the 2nd of March, and the day before it there is a half marathon nearby. I’m going to run it. I don’t want a time, I want to say I’ve done it. I think I’ll be ready weight and fitness-wise by then, and am happy to skip out the 10k middle-man.

I must be mad.