Off to a good start…..





Well after last week’s ‘ARGGGG I’M TOO FAT!!!!’ post, I promised I’d report back on how this first week of ‘trying to be better’ has turned out.  Not too badly, as it happens.

I’ve decided a good day to weigh myself is Thursday.  Monday weigh-ins suck because, well, it’s Monday.  Need I say more?  A midweek weigh-in didn’t feel quite right either, so I plumped for Thursday – beyond hump day (no, not that kind, sadly…) but before the excesses of the weekend kick in.  Okay, so weekend excesses shouldn’t really be part of the plan anymore, and I’ll endeavour that they are not, but I think out of the whole week, weekends are more likely to be days where a treat is allowed.

So, what was the result?  Well, so far I’ve lost 4.4lbs, hurrah!!  To be fair, that is for more than a week, because I think my last official weigh in was last Monday, rather than Thursday, but no matter, I’ll take it.  What pleases me more than anything is that I’ve not been eating ‘perfectly’, and anyway, what does that mean?

Well, I have a few thoughts /I’ve made a few decisions  in terms of my ‘diet’ and here they are, in no particular order:

1. I’m not on a diet, this is a new way of life;

2. No more ‘I’m never eating anything sugary EVER AGAIN’ (to be shouted triumphantly from a rooftop with a smug look upon one’s face).  Yeah, like that ever works.  I’ve only said that about, oh, a million times in the past, and i’m still beach-ball shaped.  Coincidence?  No.  So I’ve had the odd sweet-treat this week (hence the ‘not been eating perfectly’ comment above), but on a vastly reduced scale from my usual diet.  Knowing I can have it, if I REALLY want it, means I’ve not been so fussed about having it;

3. Drink lots of water;

4. Think of food in terms of what will help me achieve my goal, what will delay my goal (thanks for that one Rob!);

5. Plan out my food for the day / week.  I do SO much better if I think about every eventuality in a day – when am I most likely to want to gorge myself on sugary shit (mid-afternoon).  What can I do to avoid that (bring something else to eat);

6. Don’t keep temptations around;

7. Wait for a while after I’ve stopped eating to see if I really am still hungry.  Guess what?  I’m not;

8. Accept help from anywhere and everywhere.  I’ve had so many lovely messages and chats with pals offering support and advice, it makes a massive difference.  I must admit I used to think that it would be more of an achievement if I did this all on my own, but actually, who cares.  As my lovely pal Tracy said ‘you don’t get a medal for doing it on your own’.  Well put, bawbag;

9. Take it one day at a time;

10. Cook everything myself and avoid processed food.  To be honest I generally do this anyway;

11. Look at the positive, not the negative.  In my last post I talked about putting up these hellish pictures of me from the Outlaw as inspiration but again my pal Tracy pointed out that looking at the negative isn’t a good idea.  Why not put up pictures to aspire to?


I guess that list is a bit random, but they’re all things I’ve been thinking of/using this week to try to help me on my plight to anti-beachballness.  I know in the past, I’ve had this idea in my head that I need to eat ‘perfectly’ to shift the weight.  Of course I could never have actually told you what that even meant, so I was unlikely to be able to actually do it.  For me though, what I really want is to eat real, natural food (meat and veg and fruit etc. that I can make into meals myself, not chemically covered processed crap).  I want to be able to have a dessert sometimes, or a bar of chocolate, but knowing that those times are in the minority, and are seen as an occasional treat, not the norm.  I want to  stop the sugar slumps that leave me tired and brain-dead.  I want to feel as though I have the energy to get off the sofa and go do some exercise, which in turn will make me feel even better.

So my first week is over, and I’m happy with how it turned out.  Next week I think will be harder – weight loss is unlikely to be as high, which is fine, but I need to be extra vigilant with my eating to ensure I give myself the best chance of losing more weight.  I’ve also got a busy weekend ahead, so this will be a good test!

I’m also looking into other things such as nutrition plans and NLP which I think could help me in my quest, but I’ll write about that another time, when I know more about them.

Thanks to everyone for all the support and positive input this last week, it has really helped.

Onwards and upwards 🙂


Not to wheat….



….is the answer.

I decided to try a little experiment.  Having mentioned in an earlier blog that I’m curious about the effects of wheat in my diet, I thought the best way to tell if it really bothers me or not is to eat it for a couple of weeks, note the effects then cut it out, and note the effects.  Well I’ve spent the last week and a bit eating wheat with gay abandon, and right now I feel like someone has stuck their hand in my abdomen and is squeezing my intestines and colon with all their strength.  Not great.

I’ve been noting how I’ve felt this last week, but I think the notes from the last couple of days are more telling, because I felt rubbish for a few days after the marathon last weekend (mostly because of the heat) so I’m not even counting those.  So what were my symptoms? Well, I’ve had lethargy, lack of concentration, headaches (both dull and piercing), eczema on my hands getting worse (lots of tiny little blisters), spots, digestive issues ranging from constipation & bloating to ‘omg i need to get to the bathroom NOW!’, and cramps in my lower intestinal area.

Could these symptoms be related to anything else?  Quite possibly, but I’ve not been eating differently, other than quite a lot of bread/cake.  It might be something else other than wheat, but to be honest if I cut out the wheat, then I’ll be cutting out all the crap that goes with it, so that should solve the problem.  Will I lose nutrients if I cut out wheat?  I don’t think so.  The plan is to eat meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and dairy.  I know dairy can be quite high on the allergen list, but I’ll keep that in the diet for now, and see how I go.  I’ll also eat rice, potatoes, quinoa and gluten-free oats, so I can get carbs from there (as well as the veggies), so I’m not really missing out. All the food I will be eating should have sufficient nutrients for me, and I can’t imagine I’ll be doing myself a disservice.

It will be tricky though, especially since I’ll be travelling with work for over half the week, eating in hotels and unable to bring my own lunch to work.  I’ll do my best though, and I should be able to sort myself out.

What I’m not planning to do, long-term is replace bread/cakes with gluten-free versions. Firstly, these products tend to be really expensive for what they are, and secondly, they are still heavily processed and full of shit.

To back up the healthier diet, I’m also going to get back to the gym and devise a programme for myself.  As fabulous as the sculpture in my photo is (taken in the gardens surrounding Beaulieu House in the New Forest), the aim is to look a little less like this, or rather a lot less like this.

I’ll report back in due course, and hopefully, when I do, my guts won’t feel like they’re in a vice anymore.

Enjoy the summer heat wave everyone 🙂


The kindness of strangers



Well, I did it. I managed to get round the Outlaw marathon on Sunday, but it wasn’t pretty.  Not by a long shot.  In fact, I would go as far as to say it was a fucking nightmare!  In the run up to the event, everyone had been checking the weather forecast with trepidation.  As the event was in the UK, it would be easy to think the worries stemmed from the possibilities of freezing weather, howling winds and pouring rain, but for once, this wasn’t the case.  As it turned out, the 7th of July was one of – if not thehottest days of the year *insert melted smiley*


We don’t do excessive heat in this country, well at least not at sporting events.  Not usually.  Everyone training for the Outlaw Ironman had been training through cold, wind, rain and snow all winter, so to say it was a shock to be competing in 30C in the shade is a bit of an understatement.


I wasn’t too nervous in the run up to the day, because I’d done the training, and my two longest runs of 18- and 20 miles had gone pretty well.  I’m  a bit of a slow coach, but I had estimated i take 5:45 – 6:00 hours to get round, and I was happy with that.  The only other marathon I have completed I did in 6:55.  Surely I could beat that PB?  I mean, 6:55 is aaaaaages, so it shouldn’t have been a problem.  Except I didn’t account for the heat, and neither had anyone else.


I was almost too embarrassed to put my time up here, but then again the results are public, and all my friends that were there know how long it took me – 8:09 in the end.  Seriously.  Slowest marathon of the day, and that is even including all the men and women who had already swum 2.4 miles and biked 112 miles.  Disappointed doesn’t even come close.  Now I know it was fecking hot, and I still finished, but everyone else had the same conditions to contend with, so I’m not a special case (no comments please! 😉 ).  It almost felt as if it wouldn’t have mattered if i had done any training or not, and the worst thing is I feel that if I could go out and walk 26.2 miles right now it wouldn’t take me that long!!!!  Well, maybe once my blisters have healed…..


I had a couple of really low points during the day, but I knew I was going to finish, no matter what.  I’d been in a good frame of mind about the marathon in the run up, so it wasn’t a negative mindset that got to me.  I think I just had no resilience to the heat.  My 20 miler was done in temps of ~22C, so I thought i’d cope with the heat okay, but it really floored me.  My hands puffed up to look like a pack of butcher’s sausages, and my feet felt as though they were going to burst.  I tried to drink as much as i could around the course (there were aid stations every couple of kilometres) but it wasn’t enough, and i know I didn’t eat much – couldn’t face it.

So, what now?  Well, as much as i’m a bit despondent about it, I can recognise the positives – I got round despite the heat, and I finished.  I had a brilliant weekend away with friends – old and new – and I had a lot of good laughs.  If you asked me now would I have done it if i’d known it would be that bad, then I would have to say yes, no hesitation.  Why?  Well, because even though I didn’t achieve what I wanted, it has made me reaffirm a lot of things – that I want, or rather NEED, to lose weight and get fitter.  My body really suffered out there, and my lack of core strength really had me screwed towards the end when I couldn’t maintain good posture.  The extra weight on my feet really didn’t help me, and while I got there, it would have been more manageable, and less taxing on my body if I was 4 stone lighter.  So if nothing else, it will help me sharpen my focus.  However, I need to review my long terms goals in light of the effect the heat had on me – i’m not sure an Ironman in Western Australia in the middle of their summer is such a blinding idea now….. Anyway, that’s for later…..


The biggest reason that I would do Sunday all over again, however, is because of the amazing support I got on the day, and in the run up to the marathon.  I’m very proud to call myself a Pirate – a member of a ‘virtual’ triathlon club called the Pirate Ship of Fools.  We all wear bright yellow kit with a black skull and crossbones on it – if you’re a triathlete reading this in the UK, i’m sure you’ll have seen some of us about, and possibly some international triathletes will have seen us too; we get about a bit 😉  Anyway, never have you seen a more motley crew, but never have you met a more supportive group of people.  I can only blame the Pirates for getting me into triathlon in the first place, but secretly i’m glad they did.  I’ve made a lot of fabulous pirate friends int he last few years, and look forward to making more in time.  Running in the kit is a sure-fire way to get support from almost everyone.  It was hard to run (okay, shuffle) a few feet without hearing someone shout and encouraging “Aaaaaarrrrgg!” at me.  I spent some time walking with another triathlete who was really struggling with the heat, but was determined to keep up a strong walking pace in order to finish (he beat me, which I’m happy about!).  He gave me a couple of salt tablets too which I was very grateful for.  Another nameless lady walked with me and chattered for a few hundred meters when I was struggling a bit.  I asked if she had friends or family taking part and she replied “two friends are doing it, but I like to support everybody”.  I was also very grateful to my lovely friend Krista who popped up around the course and always knew the right thing to say, especially when I saw her at a really low point.  I also have to mention all the event marshalls and volunteers without whom the race would not be possible.  They are so encouraging and friendly, and I even got a lovely hug from a volunteer who seemed immune to the sweaty, stinking mess that I was.  Finally I’m ever so grateful to a lovely man called Richard who went out of his way to offer support.  I had been hiding in the shade while I waited for my friend Carolyn to finish the bike leg and hand over the timing chip.  Richard was hiding from the sun too, and I found out that not only had he completed Ironman Austria the week before, but he intended to complete the Outlaw too.  However, the sun was so hellish, that he decided to stop after the bike leg, being too tired to go on.  No wonder after the week before!  Anyway, he asked my name, and said he’d support me on the way round.  So once I set off, I saw him after a couple of miles when he shouted my name from the top of a grass bank, then he wandered down to shout encouragement.  I saw him again further round the course, and he told me to keep going.  The third time I saw him, I was heading out for my second and final long loop, and definitely looked a bit despondent knowing I still had a long way to go, so he walked with me for a little bit, we chatted and I finally found out his name.


This is what I love about triathlon, and running events.  People you’ve never met in your puff just look out for you and do their best to help you.  If you’ve ever been out and watched a sporting event and cheered folk on, then thank-you.  It means so, so much.  I always try to smile and say thanks, but sometimes it is too hard to even speak, but believe me, I’m still grateful.  It is no exaggeration to say I wouldn’t have got round the marathon without it.  So despite the utter hellishness of Sunday, my memories of it will be happy.  The pain will eventually recede, then I’ll get back to my plans and figure out what to do next.  I know I swore on Sunday that I’d never do it again, but of course I will, because I’ve got to beat my time, and prove to myself that I can do better.  Most importantly though, I’m looking forward to supporting at future events, because I want to repay the kindness shown to me on Sunday.

Happy days 🙂

The long road ahead…..

P1040568Did you know that students around the world are the only people keeping the multi-coloured pen industry in business?  Probably not, because I just made that up.  It might as well be true though.  Envisage the scenario:  you’ve been coasting along, doing the minimum possible, because let’s face it, the exam is ages away, and studying is for losers.  All of a sudden though, you wake up one morning to find you’ve been in a coma for two months (the ONLY explanation!) because the exam is next week and you can barely remember ever having attended the lectures.  Before panic well and truly sets in, you think of the perfect solution – create a study plan!!!!  So you settle down, a crisp new notepad and 40 different coloured pens in front of you, and begin the epic task.  Days are divided into tiny, measurable little slots where you’re going to make up for all the lost time; phew, you were almost worried for a minute! Each task is colour coded and surrounded by lovely scribbles and notes just to cheer you along the path to success.  Four hours, three pots of tea and half a packet, okay, a whole packet of Hob Nobs later, you’re finished!  You sit back to admire your handiwork, a smug look of satisfaction on your face.  It’s not long before the crucial mistake becomes apparent though – you’ve included today in the plan,  and realise you should have started studying three hours ago.  You desperately search the plan for some space to rearrange the missed cramming time, but what with the 47 tea breaks (rest is vital!) and that night out you just cannot miss, the futility of your efforts sink in, so you declare the day a write-off and head to the pub for a well earned pint.

I’d love to say that little reminiscence into my student days was all just about the past, but to be honest, this kind of misplaced effort has been dogging me for years.  I’m a great one for saying what i’m going to do, but just a bit rubbish at actually doing it.  Now I know i’m training for a marathon at the moment, but I was supposed to have already run one this year, and guess what – I didn’t .  I did however make a MASSIVE wall chart with all my training on it – I even had spaces to record how the sessions went and what i could do better next time (eh, maybe follow the plan?).  Needless to say the chart was binned, the marathon wasn’t run, and i was back to where I started.

So, why am i telling you all this?  Well, i’ve been planning again, but this time it is going to be more successful.  Why? Because this time I really, really want it, and further to my last post, health wise i need this.  Although I don’t have the day-to-day plans buttoned down, i can give you the headliners:

Goal 1a: Lose weight.  I’ve got a goal in mind, but to be honest I’m more concerned with getting rid of excess visceral fat – I don’t care what the scales say at the end of the day.

Goal 1b: Get strong.  There has recently been a lot of debate in the media about the ‘strong is the new skinny’ campaign, where it is feared people will replace one obsession with another.  For me though, ‘getting strong’ is about functional strength – training my body to work as it is meant to, to reduce the chances of injury (my lower back has a tendency to be a pain in the, well, back). I want to have good core strength, and by that I mean my trunk but also my glutes, hamstrings etc.

I’ve split Goal 1 into two parts because for me they are clearly interlinked – to be honest, if I get the functional training right, the weight will almost take care of itself (assuming I eat right!)

Goal 2: if I reach my interim goal weight by the end of December, i’ll sign up for an ironman next year, most likely Ironman Western Australia.  The reason I want to reach the interim weight goal first is because I learned a big lesson from my first IM attempt; I thought if I signed up for an ironman, that would help me reach my goal weight.  Big mistake.  Long, slow cardio isn’t the path to weight loss – i put on half a stone, and DNF’d, so i’m not taking that chance again.

Goal 3: Complete the half iron-distance event at Enduroman UK in 2014.  I’ve put this after Goal 2 on purpose, even though it comes first on the 2014 calendar – I’m going doing this even if I decide the IM is too big an ask based on my weight loss progress.  Why?  Well, I still want to have a physical challenge to aim for, and it will also give a boost to my weight loss efforts knowing i have a reason to keep trying (over and above health).

Of course there is a lot of other stuff that I need to do to reach these goals, but that’s for another post; i’ve waffled on enough for now.  I have to say though, I feel really excited to finally have a purpose again health & exercise wise, which I feel i’ve been missing for a while.  The road ahead will undoubtedly be long and winding, with plenty of potholes and hills to contend with, but i’m looking forward to the journey…..

As Barney would say, “it’s going to be legend- ….wait for it…….”