Exercise, Healthy Eating, Running, Targets

What Maketh a Runner

Weigh-in: 2.5lbs Gain

6 weeks without tracking, weigh-in, class or any sort of regular exercise regime and I’ve gained a measly 2.5lbs. Not so smug now, eh Walter? And that was with jeans on, without exercising. I usually run the afternoon before weigh-in and get on the scales in running tights. I’ve never been so happy over a gain in my entire life. I had visions of half a stone, 8 lbs 10 lbs…. it has been known to happen in the space of a few weeks – but I’m also glad I was able to go back to class tonight. Actually, I was ecstatic. When I go to class, I know everything will be okay. When I can’t, I feel a wild sense of complete out-of-control chaos. The minute I stepped on the scales last night, that completely disappeared.

The last few weeks have actually turned out to be a good lesson – I’ve averaged a gain of less than half a lb per week. Minimum I usually run 12 miles a week, maximum 30, and without that (I can count the number of runs I’ve been on in the last 6 weeks on one hand) technically I should have gained more. After chatting at class, I realised that my diet has not changed dramatically over this period, although I may have been more relaxed with my portion control. That teamed with less exercise shows me why I’ve gained. The upside is that it also tells me that my healthy eating choices are beginning to stick – I would have put on a LOT more if I’d reverted back to the way I used to eat, but I just ate normally, minus the tracking. The best bit is I didn’t do it consciously. I did it automatically, suggesting that perhaps I might be winning the war with my food addiction. This feels like a really positive step, and I’m now bizarrely pleased that I’ve missed WWs. However, I am careful not to convince myself that I can continue to lose weight without the support network that I have – I’d just be kidding myself on, and at the end of the day, a gain is a gain.

There are four weigh-ins until Christmas (EEK!) so I’ve set myself an interim target of getting over the stone hump for Santa. Who’s with me?

Cordelia in Sports Gear

Thin Brain has been very quiet over the last while (I actually think my entire brain went on holiday through lack of sleep!) but here she is now in her neon running gear (Of course it’s neon, she’s slim enough to pull it off)  ready to get back into the routine and encourage me along on my jogs. I’ve run over 100 miles in my new shoes and am steadily easing myself back into 4 runs per week and preparation for my half-marathon training. My 5k last week was the first back after being ill and honestly, I felt as if I’d never run the length of myself. Ho-riffic.

For the first mile, I felt as if I was running awkwardly and that I couldn’t co-ordinate my limbs or find a comfortable pace. My breathing was an issue throughout, but I think that was mainly due to the remnants of my congested airways more than anything. By 2.5 miles, I hit an uphill stretch and my legs felt like lead. By the the time I finished I thought my lungs were going to burst and I felt sick. My time was slow, and I felt unfit, out of shape and fat, as well as a million other negative body-related points.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel like a runner.

So Are You A Runner?

This really gets my goat. I know there is a lot of debate about what makes someone a runner, others say its an individual opinion. First of all, here are my criteria –

  • You run/jog further than a mile continuously – a non-runner would not do this in their right mind, unless perhaps running from the law
  • You go out regularly
  • You wear clothes that are not socially acceptable under normal circumstances (i.e multicolour swapshop/tight like a tiger/sweatbands)
  • You keep track, in some way, of distance or time

To me, anyone that does these things is a runner. What pisses me off even more is people who do waaaaay more than this and turn round and say, ‘Oh,but I don’t class myself as a runner’. You know who you are. I understand that people do not want to appear as a show-off, or perhaps don’t have the self-confidence to use such a positive affirmation, or feel their personal efforts aren’t worthy of the title. Anyone who runs regularly-be it ten minutes or ten miles- knows the discipline, physical exertion and most of all the mental strength required to get through. And THAT’S what makes a runner.

The running community is one of the friendliest, encouraging and supportive networks I know, particularly for newbies or runners trying a new challenge. By saying to someone ‘I’m not a runner’ you automatically belittle their efforts if they run less/slower/shorter distance than you. That has an impact. A big one. So please, think about it the next time you chat to someone about running – if you are having that conversation, chances are you ARE a runner.

I know I am.

Just a slightly out-of-shape one at the moment 😉


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, Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Running

Back to Earth With A Bump

Weigh in:  2lb Gain

Well well well. That was a good guess, wasn’t it? I have had a wholly ridiculous week which amounted to a wholly ridiculous gain. Do I still think it was worth it? Damn tootin’.  Standing on the scales and seeing the numbers go up was unpleasant, and for a split second I thought it wasn’t worth it. But that’s all it turned out to be – a split second. I was more annoyed about feeling like crap afterwards – I didn’t feel human until Tuesday morning, and wasn’t giving a toss about the scales. I still ran Tuesday/Wednesday as normal. I still went to my meeting and weighed in, and still stayed for the chat. Can you imagine if I hadn’t? I know loads of people who take this route, and it always ends badly. If I have one piece of  advice to give anyone, it’s GO TO YOUR MEETING NO MATTER WHAT. I now have a clear goal for next week (yup, you guessed it, lose the 2lbs) and nothing is getting in the way. The main thing this week (apart from the crap in/crap out theorem) that I have discovered is it’s all in the head.

Fat Brain Has A Lot To Answer For

The hardest thing about this week was fighting with my Fat Brain. I don’t mean with the eating and drinking (that bit was easy – Fat Brain wins!) but with my moral standing on the subject of Weight Watchers. We are effectively programming ourselves to be healthy and see a loss on the scales, so trying to justify a deliberate, self-induced sabotage can be difficult to deal with. This was my issue. Fat Brain was positively wetting himself in anticipation (Yes, I decided he’s a boy. I’m going to call him Walter. I used to know someone called Walter and I didn’t like him very much.)  whilst Thin Brain (Lets call her Cordelia) had her head in her hands. Technically she should have been pleased for the weekend off, but no matter which way I turned it, I could not justify to myself that what I was doing was okay. I don’t know if I am naturally pre-programmed to be hard on myself, but that’s a battle I’ve lost. What  I now know is that the war is definitely not over. And I’m going to win that one.

Another effect of this weekend is the dread of James’ 30th birthday, which is only a fortnight away *Walter jumps up and down* – we’re on holiday for a week and I  could do with having another 5 weigh-ins before I have to deal with this sort of situation again. They say only a fool never learns from their mistakes, so I’m planning already. This appeals to my freakishly geeky, scientific list-writing self, and I’m determined when I weigh in on the 18th September, I’ll not gain 2 lbs. Even if it’s 1.5lbs gain, it will still be better than last time. I’m planning where to squeeze in runs, avoid ridiculous alcohol ( Diesel jagerbomb with woo woo chaser?) and not eat snacks like they are shutting down Walkers and Cadbury’s simutaneously. Are there better ways to limit damage? I’ll gladly take on board any sensible suggestions.

All Aboard the Gem-Gem Train

One of the strangest but nicest things about being at Weight Watchers is the ripple effect I’m having. I’m a confident, outgoing, energetic person (read: talks too much) that will be openly enthusiastic about things I’m doing with anyone prepared to listen. Since deciding to change my lifestyle for good, it’s started rubbing off. My Mother has rejoined WW. (My tactic there was ‘I’ve never seen you skinny and I don’t want to put you in a box before my grandmother’ – Harsh, but it worked) She wants to do it, but now she also has to face being a fat Mother of the Bride when I get to goal, which I don’t think she wants either. She’s lost half a stone already. I’m proud of her and I love her.

At work, all the skinny girls laugh at me with my ‘posh salads’ and bottles of water – they survive on energy drinks. I know I eat better than them, and I’m also fitter than them. And at least 4 stone heavier. One not-skinny girl notices this, and the fact I look healthy and fresh, even without make-up, and that I’m starting to shrink. She took the step today and joined up. I’m proud of her too, and we can work as a WW team as well as a work team. Another staff member has started eating more healthily and is considering coming to my WW class. Win!

Lastly, I met some girls at a recent local show that come in to my shop, and they were trying to persuade me on a boozy night out, to which I politely declined. One had recently had a baby (I suspect she was overweight before this) and the other quite overweight. After pushing and pushing and asking me why, my answer was ‘because I’m 1lb off losing a stone this week and it’s damn well coming off’. Silence followed. STAND YOUR GROUND, PEOPLE. Since that day, new mum is ‘on a diet’ and other girl has started walking for exercise. (One-Nil to Cordelia!) – Seriously though, it’s nice to see positivity being passed on.

Here Endeth The Lesson

Although I felt a bit bummed out straight after weigh-in, it’s actually helped me to re-focus my efforts this week. I took a look at my ‘Jog Log’ today – a diary of all my runs- dates, weather, feelings, times, pace, splits. It reads like an arithmophobes’ nightmare and a scientists’ dream, but lets me see what’s right and what’s wrong. I realised that since I started back, I’ve run over 50 miles already. That’s back home to my folks in Troon plus room to saunter to the nearest bar! When I started back running on the 15th July I was 14lbs heavier and had a seriously dodgy knee. I ran 1.3 miles before I had to stop and walk. On Sunday I’m running 4 miles without thinking about it.

I’ve decided to make the 100-mile mark an NSV to look forward to, which has spurred on my running this week. Teamed with my awesome planning, WW work buddies and 2lbs to shift, Walter is quivering in his boots already.