31 March 2008

Salad Days

Got home to a real treat this evening. I'd been promised a nice healthy salad for our evening meal by hubby. After the last few dismal Black Dog days it's back to being properly motivated, yada, yada - get the picture?

Mind you, I didn't expect to be served a gourmet salad! What can I say? It was just beautifully presented in white bistro bowls and both looked and tasted absolutely amazing, with a variety of stunning colours, shapes and textures. Only one way to describe the flavour... superb!

So, I've got you interested, eh?

OK then, to give you the details. It starts with a bed of a lovely mixed leaf salad, with plenty of my beloved rocket (can one become addicted to a salad leaf, I wonder?), baby spinach, lambs lettuce, lollo rosso, the frizzly-edged pale one that I can't remember a name for and much, much more. A tiny drizzle of low-fat honey & mustard dressing is all that's needed - less than a teaspoonful.

Sounding nice yet? You bet!

Placed gently on top of this was a long, slender Romano sweet red pepper, slit lengthwise and stuffed with a mixture of sharp white Turkish sheep's cheese, chopped pine nuts and coriander, then oven baked until bubbly and delicious, with the pepper skin just sliding away from the flesh at a touch.

Add to this a sprig of tiny cherry tomatoes still on the vine, also oven baked until just slightly golden brown in places, and bursting with their concentrated sweet juices.

Have I got you drooling yet?

A scattering of crispy oven-baked croutons and a single long olive bread-stick for some contrasting crunchy texture and there's a plate of heaven.

A quick analysis of the angelic and the naughtier aspects? Well, yes, there is the cheese and also some pine nuts to contribute fats, but not all that much is needed as the flavours are so intense. Croutons and bread-stick are both baked - no bad stuff there. On the plus side is all the salad leaves and the vegetables - that'll certainly help out with the five-a-day! All in all, leaning a lot more towards the healthy side, methinks.

For those of you in the UK I have but one thing to say. Eat your heart out, Paddy Burt!

30 March 2008

Black Dog's still howling

Last night things got worse, a whole lot worse. We'd been given a box of chocolates a while ago and were just having one (or maybe two) of an evening, not every evening at that - being sensible and making them last. Until last night, that is.

Firstly there was the bottom layer - untouched, complete. And then there was the box - empty! Yes, we ate the lot.

Did I enjoy them? Well, no, not really. How did I feel afterwards? Appalled, guilty, overly full heading towards slightly sick, with a raging thirst and a sore mouth.

Oh boy, when I fall off the wagon I make a proper job of it. The only good thing is that they're gone - can't do it again!

Then there was the gym today. It didn't start at all well as, once I'd done my 5 minute warm-up, I got on the cross-trainer, set the resistance and incline then barely managed five minutes on it before I felt weak as a kitten and couldn't go on. Not a great confidence booster.

Hubby suggested I used the rower for some of my CV work instead. This was better but, even so, it was much harder than normal and I ended up dripping in sweat and feeling like a wet dishrag. I did persevere with the cardio stuff and got on the stepper, managing my fifteen minutes but my legs shook something awful when I got to the end.

In contrast, hubby was really pleased with how easily his CV work had gone - he'd found it a breeze today. I was really happy for him but this wasn't really a great moment for me to hear it. Just wanted to go home.

At that point I was close to tears (OK, in tears if I'm honest) but started the weights stuff anyway. I really didn't want to go on but I'm not good at failing. Thankfully, after a first (very hard) set on the chest press I got angry. In fact, cross out angry - I got furious.

Upped the weights on the next couple of stations and then reached the leg press. I've been doing my set at 150lbs (yes John, I know you said 100lbs but that is not enough of a challenge). Today I did it at 170lbs and was still angry. So I did another set at 190lbs - just to prove I could! I'll probably feel it tomorrow but what the hell.

Finished off the weights part and on to the core work - still pretty hyped up and tetchy. Did more than the usual and tried a couple of harder exercises too. Managed some (but not others) but had finally tired out my temper enough to do the stretches and head for the showers.

I need to get back on an even keel. Take a long look back at the house rules I set for myself last June, and stick with them. One of these was:

I'll try to remember not to kick myself too hard or for too long if (and when) I fall off the wagon. It won't be a total disaster - just have to get back up and start again.
I just cannot give up now - however hard it seems at the moment.

29 March 2008

Black Dog Days

Well, for all the exercise I'm now doing and for all the sensible choices and care (mostly) I now take with the food I'm eating, my weight and waist size have stayed determinedly static for several weeks now. I've just spent yet another long, tiring, fruitless day attempting (and failing dismally) to buy some new trousers for work and a pair of jeans for weekends. Hated everything I tried on, and have ended up hating myself.

To say I'm fed up is a major understatement! Hubby is trying to encourage me but I'm in need of a serious kick up the pants.

In an effort to re-motivate myself, lets try being logical about this situation, and see some positives.

Right, my fitness has improved beyond belief - no longer need an inhaler for the asthma, can lift both feet off the floor when laying on my back (a major achievement), walking is never an effort these days, the Chi Kung is fine, gym (although a challenge) is do-able and mainly enjoyable. Fine, this is a definitely a plus.

Weight - although it's hanging at just above 80kg, this is soooo much better than where I started. I have, after all, lost at least three stone. Yes, there's still a whole helluva long way to go but, OK, another tick in the plus box.

Shape is where things are still rather awry. For all the exercise and work to build muscle, my horrible, pendulous belly is still the size of Iceland! Yes, OK, alright, it used to be the size of Sweden but I just want it gone! Oh dear God, now the fat lass is whining!

So, take a look back at some photos from last summer - yes, I can see a change. Actually, I'll be prepared to admit that it's quite a big change. Trouble is, when I look in the mirror I still see something I'm really not happy with. How can I focus on the good stuff and filter out the negative side?

Suggestions on a postcard please?

23 March 2008

Snowy weather

The weatherman got it right. Woke up to Easter Sunday and the start of the snow at about 6.30am and suggested a walk.

It was FANTASTIC! Proper sticky snow, clinging to every twig and blade of grass. It was so beautiful and got even better when the flakes got bigger and it snowed more heavily. We stayed out for about an hour and a half - most of that time hardly saw a soul. We did see lots of birds (including a pair of mating swans), a rather podgy squirrel and a couple of dogs bouncing along on a joyous walk. I didn't want to stop, to be honest, but hubby was getting a bit cold.

Decided we'd earned a cooked breakfast so grilled some lovely Musks sausages, fried (ooh, how wicked!) some big flat mushrooms with garlic and opened a can of beans. Couple of slices of wholemeal bread - no, I didn't have butter or anything! - and that finished it off nicely. Delicious, even if I couldn't finish it all.

I'm on a promise for a cup of hubby's great coffee in a while. Then no great plans for the rest of the day, apart from a water change and cleaning the fish up a bit - poor little things are getting algae on the glass again. Still, I think I might just get on the rower later. I can't quite believe it still, but I seem to want to exercise for the first time in my life. Funny, isn't it?

By the way, managed to make it through the coffee morning yesterday without a single scrap of chocolate passing my lips! It didn't even feel like a minor problem. Things really have changed.

21 March 2008

Good Friday

Well, a good Friday indeed. A lie-in, then up and onto the rower. As the gym is closed over the weekend I did a bit more. Only a quarter as much again at 500 strokes, but pushing the stroke rate up. What would have taken 20 mins at 25 strokes per minute I did in just a shade over 19 mins - very happy with that, particularly as sometimes I can only manage around 24 strokes per min.

Then the Weider Abs thing. Hmm, why not push that a bit as well - so did 50 upper, 20 lower and 40 obliques. It felt fine (mostly), but it just takes far longer than I have on a normal weekday morning.

Not a lot of walking today but still a little, and then on to the boring stuff - washing, ironing, bed-making, etc. Still, it frees up the holiday weekend for proper relaxation.

A Happy Easter so far - wonder if I can avoid the chocolate and cakes at the coffee morning tomorrow?

19 March 2008

Gym again - good!

Had to take the calf lifts a bit easy this time as they hurt (a lot!) during Chi Kung after our last time, on Sunday. I've switched from Tai Chi to Chi Kung as the class times are earlier but it can be a challenge at times.

So, care of calf muscles, but we still had a good outing and everything else went well. In fact, more than well.

I asked one of the staff about the core exercises as I wasn't at all sure that what I was doing was right. She came to help but asked me why, when my instructions mentioned raising one leg at a time, I was raising both legs together. I couldn't understand this and said, oh no, I couldn't do that and never had been able to as I had no strength at all in my tummy muscles.

How astonished I was when she said that's what I was doing! So, the core must be getting stronger - I could never do that, and have been extremely frustrated all through the yoga classes I've been to. Yippee!

10 March 2008

Plodding along

Failed dismally to buy some new clothes on Saturday. Not at all happy as the size 18 was too big, size 16 was too small - in the same trousers for heaven's sake! The positive side is that I'm even considering a 16 though... and not from the 'fat lass' shops either. A lot of walking, but probably rather counteracted by drinking a pint of S.A. Brains' beautiful brew whilst watching Wales winning the rugby.

Still, the food side of things was fairly good, although I did have a bowl of chips (hand-cooked posh artisan 'fries' actually - tee hee) with my lentil burger. Couldn't eat them all but they were a lovely treat.

Went back to the gym on Sunday morning and really enjoyed it. Did my 15 mins on the (Concept II) rower - no problem, unsurprisingly enough, but what amazed me was that I then did 15 mins on the stepper!

You could have knocked me down with a feather! The other day I just could not get the hang of it and it nearly killed me, but on Sunday we somehow clicked and I stopped fighting it. 15 mins wasn't exactly a doddle but it was do-able, and with enough energy left for 5 mins on the cross-trainer. Now, that is still a bitch and 5 mins is quite enough for now.

Then it was on to the weights machines and I think I remembered most of what John told me. Struggled with the two upper body pushing ones (heaven knows what they're called) but the rest went OK. Put the leg press up to 130lbs as 100lbs was way too easy.

The core stuff wasn't quite so good though. Don't think I can really remember what I was told, so it seemed very hard. Also, I know there were quite a few stretches I need to do each time, but I could only think of a handful and I'm sure there were more.

Also not so good is doing all that in the gym then coming home to clean out the fish tank (a long job!) and then do a huge pile of ironing. By the evening I was soooo tired... and rather grumpy.

Back to normal on Monday but missed out the morning exercises - sadly. I'm very achy (and not just from the gym) and had a lousy night so it was just too rushed. A stormy, wet & windy walk at lunch was wonderful though and did me a lot of good on a stressful Monday. I'm off to Tai Chi in about an hour so am munching a bowl of fresh fruit with a pint of water - that'll do me good too.

08 March 2008

Ooooh, I'm feeling the gym!

Well, I thought I'd ache a bit after Thursday night's gym session. In the morning on Friday though, not a bit. "Hey that's great", I thought.

Still did my rowing and abs stuff in the morning and actually added in some of the core exercises John showed me. Clocked up around 2 hours walking too - a good day. Felt absolutely fine.... until about 8.30 in the evening when just about every muscle I possess (and a few I didn't know existed) ganged up on me. Hell, I felt like a 90 year old!

Enthusiasm has got the better of me I guess. I need to remember one of my rules (see the start of this blog) and don't go mad at the beginning - just work up slowly. I will keep up the exercise at home, but maybe leave the gym until Sunday, not launch in there again today.

07 March 2008

Getting with the programme

Hey, that was great - much better than I expected! Spent just under 2 hours learning about :

  • the cardio machines - including that awful stepper - hate it already!
  • the weights machines - some of which look horrendously complex but are actually quite easy to use... once you know how
  • the core exercises - a strong core is essential I gather (and you never know, I might one day have one), although they make you look a bit of a prat, wobbling about on the gym-mats
and finally, the stretches. These are also very important and I must remember to do them. I guess once you do forget and you hurt yourself, you won't forget again.

John doesn't like the Abs Crunch thing I've got for the abs part of the core exercises - he prefers you to do without such aids, but I think it has helped me a bit already as I am soooo weak in that area. I'll keep with it (and do his exercises) for now.

He was really helpful and didn't make me feel stupid, or old, or a lazy slob or anything negative. But, he does expect me to push my limit, a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

06 March 2008

Go figure?

Well, problem is partly solved. I'm getting HUNGRY at about 3.30 or 4.00 pm.... very! Hence some of my willingness to eat cake or whatever. Actually, I'd probably eat the packaging - so ate four dried figs instead.

Done a bit of Googling and I wonder if I may need to add just a little carbohydrate to lunch for a few days and see if this does the trick to stop the afternoon 'feed me' feelings. It could be that my body has just got a bit p**d off with being asked to do my current level of exercise on a bowl of muesli and my fairly meagre (if healthy) lunch?

Either that or eat the dreaded banana in the afternoon. Funny how I've gone right off them. Anyway, try it and see if it helps.

By the way, I'm off to the gym tonight, for the one-to-one assessment for my personal fitness programme. I hope the trainer, John, is kind to me as I feel a bit (OK, very) nervous.


Oh dear. I have hit a bit of a problem. To make it worse, I didn't really either recognise or take note of it and resorted to my old, stoooopid behaviour, comfort eating.

It's taken me a few days to even realise I was doing it as I've still been exercising, still eating my healthy cottage cheese and veg/fruit lunch and being sensible of an evening. All the time merrily kidding myself that I was doing fine. But, and it's a very big but, I've 'treated' myself to something - a piece of cake or a couple of biscuits - for four or five days on the trot! I've also dropped off with my water intake - hence up four pounds and waist size expanding about half an inch.

The thing that tipped me off wasn't even the food diary (which I'd 'conveniently' forgotten to complete after coming back from a weekend away), but stepping onto the bathroom scales and - ooops! I'm back up to just under 13 stone, when I had been happily heading for twelve and a half.

Thinking about why this have happened leads me straight to a bit of stress at work over the last couple of weeks. I've been given a few things to think about for the future (OK, they're probably positive, if challenging) so I've been worrying and not sleeping well again. So getting more tired and finding that the same old behaviour triggers the same old responses and the same old inability to catch on to what I've been doing to myself.

Well, I've caught on now, so time to get back to reality. No more 'treats' for the wrong reasons, no more kidding myself and back to putting conscious thought into what I'm doing and why. Wish me luck!

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